Background: Cadmium (Cd) is a carcinogenic heavy metal of environmental concern. Exposure to both Cd and carcinogenic organic compounds, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or aromatic amines (AAs), is a common environmental problem. Human arylamine N-acetyltransferases (NATs) are xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes that play a key role in the biotransformation of AA carcinogens. Changes in NAT activity have long been associated with variations in susceptibility to different cancers in relation with exposure to certain AAs. Objective: We explored the possible interactions between Cd and the NAT-dependent biotrans-formation of carcinogenic AAs. Methods: We exposed purified enzymes, lung epithelial cells, and mouse models to Cd and subsequently analyzed NAT-dependent metabolism of AAs. Results: We found that Cd, at biologically relevant concentrations, impairs the NAT-dependent acetylation of carcinogenic AAs such as 2-aminofluorene (2-AF) in lung epithelial cells. NAT activity was strongly impaired in the tissues of mice exposed to Cd. Accordingly, mice exposed to Cd and 2-AF displayed altered in vivo toxico kinetics with a significant decrease (~ 50%) in acetylated 2-AF in plasma. We found that human NAT1 was rapidly and irreversibly inhibited by Cd [median inhibitory concentration (IC50) ≈ 55 nM; rate inhibition constant (kinact) = 5 × 104 M-1 · sec-1], with results of acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) protection assays indicating that Cd-mediated inhibition was due to the reaction of metal with the active-site cysteine residue of the enzyme. We found similar results for human NAT2, although this isoform was less sensitive to inactivation (IC50 ≈ 1 μM; kinact = 1 × 104 M-1 · sec-1). Conclusions: Our data suggest that Cd can alter the metabolism of carcinogenic AAs through the impairment of the NAT-dependent pathway, which may have important toxicological consequences.
Ragunathan, N., Dairou, J., Sanfns, E., Busi, F., Noll, C., Janel, N., … Rodrigues-Lima, F. (2010). Cadmium alters the biotransformation of carcinogenic aromatic amines by arylamine N-acetyltransferase xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes: Molecular, cellular, and in vivo studies. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(12), 1685–1691. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1002334