J. Phys. IV France
Volume 104, March 2003
Page(s) 289 - 292

J. Phys. IV France
104 (2003) 289
DOI: 10.1051/jp4:200300082

Chromium oxidation state mapping in human cells

R. Ortega1, B. Fayard2, M. Salomé2, G. Devès1 and J. Susini2

1  Laboratoire de Chimie Nucléaire Analytique et Bioenvironnementale, UMR 5084 du CNRS, Université de Bordeaux 1, CENBG, BP. 120, Le Haut Vigneau, 33175 Gradignan, France
2  X-Ray Microscopy, Beamline ID-21, ESRF, BP. 220, 38043 Grenoble cedex, France

The widespread use of chromium in industrial applications such as chemical production of pigments, refractory brick production, tanning, metallurgy, electroplating, and combustion of fuels has lead to human occupational exposure and to its increased introduction into the environment. Hexavalent chromium compounds are established carcinogens but their mechanism of cell transformation is not known. Up to now, no microanalytical technique was sensitive enough to allow the observation of chromium distribution, and oxidation state identification, within isolated cells at carcinogenic concentrations. In this experiment, we used successfully the ID-21 X-ray microscope to map Cr(VI) and total Cr distributions in cells exposed in vitro to soluble, and insoluble, Cr(VI) compounds. Exposure to soluble compounds, weak carcinogens, resulted in a homogeneous intracellular distribution of Cr, confirming by in situ measurement that Cr is present in the cell nucleus. Cr(VI) was never detected in cells which suggests a mechanism of rapid intracellular reducticn. On the other hand, exposure to insoluble compounds, strong carcinogens, also resulted in a homogeneous distribution of reduced forms of Cr in cells, and their nucleus. However, in this case, Cr(VI)-rich structures were observed into the cells suggesting that carcinogenicity is enhanced when oxidation reactions due to Cr(VI) chronic exposure are associated to Cr-DNA alterations.

© EDP Sciences 2003