Benchmark dose analyses of multiple genetic toxicity endpoints permit robust, cross-tissue comparisons of MutaMouse responses to orally delivered benzo[a]pyrene.
Genetic damage is a key event in tumorigenesis, and chemically induced genotoxic effects are a human health concern. Although genetic toxicity data have historically been interpreted using a qualitative screen-and-bin approach, there is increasing interest in quantitative analysis of genetic toxicity dose-response data. We demonstrate an emerging use of the benchmark dose (BMD)-approach for empirically ranking cross-tissue sensitivity. Using a model environmental carcinogen, we quantitatively examined responses for four genetic damage endpoints over an extended dose range, and conducted cross-tissue sensitivity rankings using BMD100 values and their 90% confidence intervals (CIs). MutaMouse specimens were orally exposed to 11 doses of benzo[a]pyrene. DNA adduct frequency and lacZ mutant frequency (MF) were measured in up to 8 tissues, and Pig-a MF and micronuclei (MN) were assessed in immature (RETs) and mature red blood cells (RBCs). The cross-tissue BMD pattern for lacZ MF is similar to that observed for DNA adducts, and is consistent with an oral route-of-exposure and differences in tissue-specific metabolism and proliferation. The lacZ MF BMDs were significantly correlated with the tissue-matched adduct BMDs, demonstrating a consistent adduct conversion rate across tissues. The BMD CIs, for both the Pig-a and the MN endpoints, overlapped for RETs and RBCs, suggesting comparable utility of both cell populations for protracted exposures. Examination of endpoint-specific response maxima illustrates the difficulty of comparing BMD values for a fixed benchmark response across endpoints. Overall, the BMD-approach permitted robust comparisons of responses across tissues/endpoints, which is valuable to our mechanistic understanding of how benzo[a]pyrene induces genetic damage.