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Addressing the risk of mixed carcinogens in vivo under environmentally-realistic scenarios is still a challenge. Searching for adequate biomarkers of exposure requires understanding molecular pathways and their connection with neoplasia-related benchmark pathologies. Subjecting the zebrafish model to realistic concentrations of two genotoxicants and carcinogens, cadmium and benzo[a]pyrene, isolated and combined, yielded low levels of DNA damage. Altogether, the organisms' mechanisms of DNA repair, oxidative stress and phases I and II were not overwhelmed after two weeks of treatment. Still, transcriptional responses related to detoxification (epoxide hydrolase and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase) were higher in animals subjected to the combination treatment, inclusively following depuration. Nonetheless, inflammation and formation of hyperplasic foci in fish epithelia were more severe in animals exposed to the combined substances, showing slower recovery during depuration. Additionally, the combination treatment yielded unexpected increased expression of a ras-family oncogene homologue after depuration, with evidence for increased tp53 counter-response in the same period. The findings indicate that oncogene expression, cell proliferation and inflammation, may not require noticeable DNA damage to occur. Furthermore, albeit absent proof for neoplasic growth, the removal of chemical insult may promote tissue recovery but does not entirely clear molecular and histopathological endpoints that are commonly associated to neoplasia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3649
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Genotoxicity
  • Comet Assay
  • Nuclear abnormalities


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