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The effect of dose, dose rate, route of administration, and species on tissue and blood levels of benzene metabolites.

  • R F Henderson
  • P J Sabourin
  • W E Bechtold
  • W C Griffith
  • M A Medinsky
  • L S Birnbaum
  • G W Lucier
Publication Date
Jul 01, 1989


Studies were completed in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice to determine the effect of dose, dose rate, route of administration, and rodent species on formation of total and individual benzene metabolites. Oral doses of 50 mg/kg or higher saturated the capacity for benzene metabolism in both rats and mice, resulting in an increased proportion of the administered dose being exhaled as benzene. The saturating air concentration for benzene metabolism during 6-hr exposures was between 130 and 900 ppm. At the highest exposure concentration, rats exhaled approximately half of the internal dose retained at the end of the 6-hr exposure as benzene; mice exhaled only 15% as benzene. Mice were able to convert more of the inhaled benzene to metabolites than were rats. In addition, mice metabolized more of the benzene by pathways leading to the putative toxic metabolites, benzoquinone and muconaldehyde, than did rats. In both rats and mice, the effect of increasing dose, administered orally or by inhalation, was to increase the proportion of the total metabolites that were the products of detoxification pathways relative to the products of pathways leading to putative toxic metabolites. This indicates low-affinity, high-capacity pathways for detoxification and high-affinity, low-capacity pathways leading to putative toxic metabolites. If the results of rodent studies performed at high doses were used to assess the health risk at low-dose exposures to benzene, the toxicity of benzene would be underestimated.

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