Primary aromatic amines have been identified epidemiologically as human carcinogens. It has been suggested that the target organ affected by aromatic amines is dependent on the rate of metabolic activation. Epidemiological studies have shown an association between low acetyl transferase activity and bladder cancer risk. On this basis, our working hypothesis was that the slow acetylators could follow in a higher extent the metabolic pathway independent of N-acetylation, leading to the excretion of conjugates of electrophyles with glucuronic acid. The instability of these glucuronides could be responsible for the association between arylamine-induced bladder cancer and slow acetylator phenotype. A total of 153 individuals were included in this study: 70 exposed to arylamines (working in textile industry) and 83 nonexposed. The following parameters were determined in urine: mutagenic index in the absence of metabolic activation, S9; mutagenic index in the presence of S9; and the mutagenic index after incubation of the urine with β-glucuronidase. All individuals were phenotyped according to their capacity of N-acetylation by using isoniazid as drug test. The results show that the mutagenic index after incubation of the urine with β-glucuronidase is statistically higher in exposed subjects when compared with nonexposed individuals (P < 0.001), this parameter being statistically higher among exposed subjects who were slow acetylators than among rapid metabolizers, independent of the fact that they were smokers or nonsmokers. There were no significant differences between groups for the mutagenicity in urine not incubated with β-glucuronidase.

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This work was supported by grants of CONAI of the Diputación General de Aragón, PCM-5/89 (to B.S.).

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