Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 18–27 | Cite as

In vitro kinetics of styrene and styrene oxide metabolism in rat, mouse, and human

  • Alan L. Mendrala
  • Patrick W. Langvardt
  • Kenneth D. Nitschke
  • John F. Quast
  • Richard J. Nolan
Original Investigations


Styrene oxide (SO), a labile metabolite of styrene, is generally accepted as being responsible for any genotoxicity associated with styrene. To better define the hazard associated with styrene, the activity of the enzymes involved in the formation (monooxygenase) and destruction of SO (epoxide hydrolase and glutathione-S-transferase) were measured in the liver and lungs from naive and styrene-exposed male Sprague-Dawley rats and B6C3F1 mice (three daily 6-h inhalation exposures at up to 600 ppm styrene) and Fischer 344 rats (four daily 6-h inhalation exposures at up to 1000 ppm styrene), and in samples of human liver tissue. Additionally, the time course of styrene and SO in the blood was measured following oral administration of 500 mg styrene/kg body weight to naive Fischer rats and rats previously exposed to 1000 ppm styrene. The affinity of hepatic monooxygenase for styrene, as measured by the Michaelis constant (Km), was similar in the rat, mouse, and human. Based on theVmax for monooxygenase activity and the relative liver and body size, the mouse had the greatest capacity and humans the lowest capacity to form SO from styrene. In contrast, human epoxide hydrolase had a greater affinity (i. e., lowerKm) for SO than epoxide hydrolase from rats or mice while the apparent Vmax for epoxide hydrolase was similar in the rat, mouse, and human liver. However, the activity of epoxide hydrolase relative to monooxygenase activity was much greater in the human than in the rodent liver. Hepatic glutathione-S-transferase activity, as indicated by theVmax, was 6- to 33-fold higher than epoxide hydrolase activity. However, the significance of the high glutathione-S-transferase activity is unknown because hydrolysis, rather than conjugation, is the primary pathway for SO detoxification in vivo. Human hepatic glutathione-S-transferase activity was extremely variable between individual human livers and much lower than in rat or mouse liver. Prior exposure to styrene had no effect on monooxygenase activity or on blood styrene levels in rats given a large oral dose of styrene. In contrast, prior exposure to styrene increased hepatic epoxide hydrolase activity 1.6-fold and resulted in lower (0.1>P>0.05) blood SO levels in rats given a large oral dose of styrene. Qualitatively, these data indicate that the mouse has the greatest capacity and the human the lowest capacity to form SO. In addition, human liver should be more effective than rodent liver in hydrolyzing low levels of SO. Quantitative evaluation of the species differences in enzyme levels are being evaluated with the development of a physiologically based pharmacokinetic model for styrene that includes SO.

Key words

Styrene Styrene oxide Enzyme kinetics 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan L. Mendrala
    • 1
  • Patrick W. Langvardt
    • 1
  • Kenneth D. Nitschke
    • 1
  • John F. Quast
    • 1
  • Richard J. Nolan
    • 1
  1. 1.Toxicology Research Laboratory, Health and Environmental SciencesThe Dow Chemical CompanyMidlandUSA

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