Comparative analysis of metabolism of trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene among mouse tissues and strains


Trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) are structurally similar chemicals that are metabolized through oxidation and glutathione conjugation pathways. Both chemicals have been shown to elicit liver and kidney toxicity in rodents and humans; however, TCE has been studied much more extensively in terms of both metabolism and toxicity. Despite their qualitative similarities, quantitative comparison of tissue- and strain-specific metabolism of TCE and PCE has not been performed. To fill this gap, we conducted a comparative toxicokinetic study where equimolar single oral doses of TCE (800 mg/kg) or PCE (1000 mg/kg) were administered to male mice of C57BL/6J, B6C3F1/J, and NZW/LacJ strains. Samples of liver, kidney, serum, brain, and lung were obtained for up to 36 h after dosing. For each tissue, concentrations of parent compounds, as well as their oxidative and glutathione conjugation metabolites were measured and concentration-time profiles constructed. A multi-compartment toxicokinetic model was developed to quantitatively compare TCE and PCE metabolism. As expected, the flux through oxidation metabolism pathway predominated over that through conjugation across all mouse strains examined, it is 1,200–3,800 fold higher for TCE and 26–34 fold higher for PCE. However, the flux through glutathione conjugation, albeit a minor metabolic pathway, was 21-fold higher for PCE as compared to TCE. The degree of inter-strain variability was greatest for oxidative metabolites in TCE-treated and for glutathione conjugation metabolites in PCE-treated mice. This study provides critical data for quantitative comparisons of TCE and PCE metabolism, and may explain the differences in organ-specific toxicity between these structurally similar chemicals.