Heterocyclic aromatic amines (HAAs) are formed when meat juices are pyrolyzed. In humans HAAs are activated in vivo by cytochrome P4501A2 (CYP1A2) and N-acetyltransferase (NAT2) to mutagens or carcinogens. While activity of NAT2 is noninducible, exposure to cigarettes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and cruciferous vegetables has been shown to induce CYP1A2 activity in humans. To date, it is unknown if pan-fried meat, which is consumed at high levels in the United States, is capable of inducing CYP1A2. In order to address this issue, we measured CYP1A2 and NAT2 activities in 66 healthy nonsmokers (33 males and 33 females) in a controlled metabolic feeding study. The study was designed to minimize the influence of known inducers of CYP1A2. Subjects consumed meat pan-fried at a low temperature (100°C) for 7 days followed by 7 days of meat pan-fried at a high temperature (250°C). The low temperature-cooked meat had undetectable levels of HAAs while the high temperature-cooked meat contained high amounts of HAAs [9.0 ng/g of 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx), 2.1 ng/g of 2-amino-3,7,8-trimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (DiMeIQx), and 32.8 ng/g of 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP)]. In contrast, total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon content was similar in both meat samples (10.7 ng/g in low temperature-cooked meat and 10.1 ng/g in high temperature-cooked meat). At the end of each period, subjects were tested for CYP1A2 and NAT2 enzyme activity by caffeine metabolism phenotyping. NAT2 activity remained unchanged throughout the study while CYP1A2 activity increased in 47 of 65 (72%) of the subjects after consuming high temperature-cooked meat (P < 0.0002), suggesting induction by some compound(s) formed during high temperature cooking. If HAAs are shown to be human carcinogens in epidemiological studies, then meat cooked at high temperatures may pose an increased cancer risk because it contains both inducers of CYP1A2 and procarcinogens MeIQx, DiMeIQx, and PhIP known to be activated by this enzyme.


This work was performed under interagency agreement between the National Cancer Institute and the United States Department of Agriculture Interagency Agreement Y01-CP2-0521; the National Cancer Institute and the Food and Drug Administration under Interagency Agreement Y01-CP3-0553; and the National Cancer Institute and the United States Department of Energy under Interagency Agreement Y01-CP2-0523-01. This work was also supported by United States Department of Energy under Contract W-7405-Eng-48 and National Cancer Institute Grant CA55861.

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