Urinary excretion of mercapturic acids in chimpanzees and rats

K. H. Summer, K. Rozman, F. Coulston, H. Greim

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The urinary excretion of mercapturic acids has been considered as an indicator for human exposure to environmental chemicals. To evaluate this concept, the excretion of urinary mercapturic acids was determined in chimpanzees and rats after the oral administration of single doses of naphthalene and diethylmaleate. The excretion rate of endogenous thioethers in the urine of untreated chimpanzees and rats was 18.0 ± 1.1 and 94.4 ± 2.8 μmol/kg/24 hr respectively. The value for man was nearly the same as found in chimpanzees. After the administration of naphthalene (30, 75, and 200 mg/kg) a dose-dependent increase of the excretion rate of urinary mercapturic acids up to 408 μmol/kg/24 hr was observed in the rat. In the chimpanzees the same treatment failed to increase the urinary thioether concentrations. The administration of diethylmaleate (30, 75, and 200 mg/kg) led to a dose-dependent increase in the excretion of urinary mercapturic acids in both species. In rats this increase was about twice that of chimpanzees. The results suggest that the chimpanzee is a relevant model for man to study the urinary excretion of mercapturic acids deriving from electrophilic compounds, whereas the rat is not. Experiments with [14C]-naphthalene indicate that the species differences observed are due to differences in the glutathione conjugation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-212
Number of pages6
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Sep 1979
Externally publishedYes


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