A 48-h treatment with vinyl acetate (0.05–1 mm) induced a drastic increase in sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) and (in first division cells) structural chromosome aberrations in cultured human lymphocytes. The effects were more pronounced in cultures of isolated lymphocytes than in whole-blood cultures. A distinct dose-dependent induction of SCEs similarly occurred in Chinese hamster ovary cells after a 24-h vinyl acetate treatment (0.125–1 mm). A pulse treatment of Chinese hamster ovary cells for 4 h also yielded a clear increase in SCEs, but at higher concentrations (0.3–5 mm). The presence of rat liver S9 mix enhanced the SCE-inducing effect of vinyl acetate in Chinese hamster ovary cells. Gas chromatographic analysis of human whole-blood lymphocyte cultures treated for 10 s-20 min with vinyl acetate (5.4 mm) revealed a rapid degradation of vinyl acetate and formation of acetaldehyde. During the 20-min observation period, no degradation of vinyl acetate or formation of acetaldehyde were observed in complete culture medium without blood, which suggested that the reaction was enzymatic. Acetaldehyde induced SCEs in human whole-blood lymphocyte cultures at concentrations (0.125–2 mm) comparable to those used for vinyl acetate. The results indicate that vinyl acetate induces chromosome damage in cell cultures through enzyme-mediated hydrolysis to acetaldehyde.

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Supported by Grant 83-0349 from the Swedish Work Environment Fund.

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