Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are a class of flame retardants whose levels have increased in the environment and in human tissues in the past decades. Exposure to PBDEs has been associated with developmental neurotoxicity, endocrine dysfunction, and reproductive disorders. In spite of their widespread distribution and potential adverse health effects, only few studies have addressed the potential neurotoxicity of PBDEs. In the present study, we evaluated the cyto- and genotoxicity of 2,2',4,4'-tetrabromodiphenyl ether (BDE-47) and decabrominated diphenyl ether (BDE-209) in human neuroblastoma cells (SK-N-MC). The DNA damage was measured using the alkaline version of the Comet assay, while specific oxidative-generated DNA damage was evaluated by a modified version of the Comet assay with the repair enzyme formamidopyrimidine glycosylase (FPG). The results show that BDE-47 and BDE-209 (5-20 μmol/L) are able to induce DNA damage in human SK-N-MC cells. Pretreatment with the antioxidant melatonin significantly reduced the DNA damage induced by both congeners. The Comet assay carried out in the presence of FPG suggests that both congeners increase purine oxidation. In all cases, BDE-47 was more potent than BDE-209. The results indicate that 2 environmentally relevant PBDEs cause DNA damage which is primarily mediated by the induction of oxidative stress and may contribute to adverse health effects.
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