Lung cancers are often characterized by numerical chromosome instability. Hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) is a well-known human lung carcinogen; however, its carcinogenic mechanism remains unknown. Studies show that solubility plays a key role in its carcinogenicity, with the particulate, or insoluble, compounds being the most potent carcinogens. Epidemiological and whole animal studies pinpoint particulate zinc chromate as the most potent Cr(VI) carcinogen; however, few studies have investigated its carcinogenic mechanism. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine if zinc chromate induces numerical chromosome instability in human lung cells. We found that exposure to zinc chromate for 24 h did not induce aneuploidy but longer exposures induced both concentration- and time-dependent increases in aneuploid metaphases. For example, exposure to 0.1, 0.15 and 0.2 ug/cm2 zinc chromate for 120 h induced 28, 40 and 44 percent aneuploid metaphases, respectively, with increases in hypodiploid, hyperdiploid and tetraploid metaphases. Consistent with the aneuploidy data, a 24 h exposure to zinc chromate did not induce centrosome amplification but more chronic exposures induced concentration- and time-dependent increases in centrosome amplification in both interphase and mitotic cells. Exposure to 0.1, 0.15 and 0.2 ug/cm2 zinc chromate for 120 h induced centrosome amplification in 13.9, 18 and 21.3 percent of interphase cells and 21, 33 and 46 percent of mitotic cells. In order to determine the mechanism of centrosome amplification, we investigated the number of centrioles in each centrosome and found that cells with amplified centrosomes exhibited centrosomes with normal centriole pairs and centrosomes with centriolar defects indicating multiple mechanisms are involved in zinc chromate-induced centrosome amplification. Lastly, we found that chronic exposure to zinc chromate induced a prolonged G2 arrest. All together, these data indicate that chronic exposure to zinc chromate induces numerical chromosome instability via centrosome amplification in human lung cells. This work was supported by NIEHS grant ES016893 (J.P.W.), cooperative agreement #EP-08-01 through the Maine Space Grant Consortium (J.P.W.), EPA GRO Fellowship MA-91685401 (A.L.H.) and the Maine Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health at the University of Southern Maine.

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2010 Apr 17-21; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2010;70(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 3473.