Metabolism and Genotoxicity of Styrene

  • Harri Vainio
  • Hannu Norppa
  • Kari Hemminki
  • Marja Sorsa
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB)


An overview on the metabolism and genotoxicity of styrene is given in this article. The mutagenic potency of styrene has been confirmed in a number of test systems providing the metabolic activation of styrene. Styrene is converted to styrene-7,8-oxide as catalyzed by cytochrome P-450 cored enzyme complex. Styrene-7,8-oxide is mutagenic in prokaryotic and eukaryotic test systems without metabolic activation. It reacts with nucleic acid bases, especially with deoxyguanosine producing 7-alkylguanine and deoxycytidine producing N-3 alkylcytosine. Quite recently, styrene-7,8-oxide has been found to be a potent carcinogen in rats.

In human whole blood cultures, styrene is metabolized into styrene-7,8-oxide. Styrene is able to induce both SCEs and chromosomal aberrations in cultured lymphocytes. The clastogenic action of styrene can be explained by the metabolism of styrene into styrene-7,8-oxide in cultured human blood cells.

Although also an arene oxide, styrene-3,4-oxide, has been suggested in the biotransformation of styrene, the evidence so far supports the view that the vinyl group oxidation and oxirane formation plays a predominant role in the genotoxicity of styrene.


Chromosome Aberration Sister Chromatid Exchange Mandelic Acid Styrene Oxide Nucleic Acid Basis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harri Vainio
    • 1
  • Hannu Norppa
    • 1
  • Kari Hemminki
    • 1
  • Marja Sorsa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Industrial Hygiene and ToxicologyInstitute of Occupational HealthHelsinki 29Finland

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