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Exposure to genotoxic compounds alters in vitro cellular VOC excretion

Fijten, R;Smolinska, A;Shi, Q;Pachen, D;Dallinga, J;Boots, A;van Schooten, FJ;

Genotoxic carcinogens significantly damage cells and tissues by targeting macromolecules such as proteins and DNA, but their mechanisms of action and effects on human health are diverse. Consequently, determining the amount of exposure to a carcinogen and its cellular effects is essential, yet difficult. The aim of this manuscript was to investigate the potential of detecting alterations in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) profiles in the in vitro headspace of pulmonary cells after exposure to the genotoxic carcinogens cisplatin and benzo[a]pyrene using two different sampling set-ups. A prototype set-up was used for the cisplatin exposure, whereas a modified set-up was utilized for the benzo[a]pyrene exposure. Both carcinogens were added to the cell medium for 24 hours. The headspace in the culture flask was sampled to measure the VOC content using gas chromatography – time of flight – mass spectrometry. Eight cisplatin-specific VOCs and six benzo[a]pyrene-specific VOCs were discriminatory between treated and non-treated cells. Since the in vivo biological effects of both genotoxic compounds are well-defined, the origin of the identified VOCs could potentially be traced back to common cellular processes including cell cycle pathways, DNA damage and repair. These results indicate that exposing lung cells to genotoxins alters headspace VOC profiles, suggesting that it might be possible to monitor VOC changes in vivo to study drug efficacy or exposure to different pollutants. In conclusion, this study emphasizes the innovative potential of in vitro VOCs experiments to determine their in vivo applicability and discover their endogenous origin. .