Scand J Work Environ Health 1978;4 suppl 2:156-162    pdf | Issue date: 1978

Cytogenetic effects of styrene and styrene oxide on human lymphocytes and Allium cepa.

by Linnainmaa K, Meretoja T, Sorsa M, Vainio H

Styrene and styrene oxide induce cytogenetic effects already at very low concentrations (0.01% v/v or even less); the effects are similar in both in vitro human lymphocytes and in vivo onion root tip cells (Allium cepa L.). It is characteristic that styrene treatment is more potent in causing chromosome breakage in both systems. In Allium styrene induced inhibition of mitotic spindle action as revealed by a strong c-mitotic effect. Also the number of micronuclei and nuclear bridges increased in both test systems, especially after styrene oxide treatment. Furthermore, the metaphase chromosome morphology in the cells treated with styrene oxide was strongly affected. In both systems, chromosome destruction was observed, or else the chromosome material was decondensed and resulted in a characteristic fuzzy appearance of Allium chromosomes or a banded appearance of human lymphocyte chromosomes. A specific effect of styrene oxide on the chromosomal proteins is thus suggested. The data obtained from the autoradiographic studies with Allium support the idea that [7--3H] styrene oxide binds irreversibly to the cytoplasmic and nuclear macromolecules.