Less than additive interaction between cigarette smoke and chromium(VI) in inducing clastogenic damage in rodents

Roumen M. Balansky, Francesco D'Agostini, Alberto Izzotti, Silvio De Flora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A combination of tobacco smoking with certain agents has been shown to exert synergistic carcinogenic effects. On the other hand, antagonism between smoke and other pulmonary carcinogens has also been documented by both epidemiological and experimental data. In spite of a very large number of studies carried out for decades in workers exposed to hexavalent chromium, the influence of smoking habits on lung carcinogenesis induced by this metal has not been clarified. For this reason, we performed two studies evaluating clastogenic effects in rodents. In the first one, BDF1 mice were exposed whole-body to mainstream cigarette smoke for 5 days and, on the last day, they received an i.p. injection of potassium dichromate. In the second study, Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed wholebody to environmental cigarette smoke for 18 consecutive days and for the same period of time they received daily intra-tracheal instillations of sodium dichromate. Individually, the two hexavalent chromium salts and cigarette smoke, either mainstream or environmental, enhanced the frequency of micronuclei in bone marrow polychromatic erythrocytes of both mice and rats. Moreover, individual exposure to either environmental cigarette smoke or sodium dichromate enhanced the frequency of micronuclei and multiple nuclei in pulmonary alveolar macrophages of rats. In both studies, combined exposure to cigarette smoke and hexavalent chromium produced less than additive clastogenic effects. These results are consistent with our previous data, showing that hexavalent chromium and either benzo[a]pyrene or cigarette smoke condensate behave antagonistically in in vitro mutagenicity test systems and that the chromium reducing capacity of human pulmonary alveolar macrophages and peripheral lung parenchyma is enhanced in smokers. Taken together, in the absence of any epidemiological evidence, these findings rule out any occurrence of synergism between cigarette smoke and hexavalent chromium, at least in certain stages of the carcinogenesis process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1677-1682
Number of pages6
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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