Chronic Benzene Exposure Aggravates Pressure Overload-Induced Cardiac Dysfunction

Igor N Zelko*, Sujith Dassanayaka, Marina V Malovichko, Caitlin M Howard, Lauren F Garrett, Shizuka Uchida, Kenneth R Brittian, Daniel J Conklin, Steven P Jones, Sanjay Srivastava*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Benzene is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant abundant in household products, petrochemicals, and cigarette smoke. Benzene is a well-known carcinogen in humans and experimental animals; however, little is known about the cardiovascular toxicity of benzene. Recent population-based studies indicate that benzene exposure is associated with an increased risk for heart failure. Nonetheless, it is unclear whether benzene exposure is sufficient to induce and/or exacerbate heart failure. We examined the effects of benzene (50 ppm, 6 h/day, 5 days/week, and 6 weeks) or high-efficiency particulate absorbing-filtered air exposure on transverse aortic constriction (TAC)-induced pressure overload in male C57BL/6J mice. Our data show that benzene exposure had no effect on cardiac function in the Sham group; however, it significantly compromised cardiac function as depicted by a significant decrease in fractional shortening and ejection fraction, as compared with TAC/Air-exposed mice. RNA-seq analysis of the cardiac tissue from the TAC/benzene-exposed mice showed a significant increase in several genes associated with adhesion molecules, cell-cell adhesion, inflammation, and stress response. In particular, neutrophils were implicated in our unbiased analyses. Indeed, immunofluorescence studies showed that TAC/benzene exposure promotes infiltration of CD11b+/S100A8+/myeloperoxidase+-positive neutrophils in the hearts by 3-fold. In vitro, the benzene metabolites, hydroquinone, and catechol, induced the expression of P-selectin in cardiac microvascular endothelial cells by 5-fold and increased the adhesion of neutrophils to these endothelial cells by 1.5- to 2.0-fold. Benzene metabolite-induced adhesion of neutrophils to the endothelial cells was attenuated by anti-P-selectin antibody. Together, these data suggest that benzene exacerbates heart failure by promoting endothelial activation and neutrophil recruitment.

Original languageEnglish
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)64-76
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 28 Dec 2021

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