RESEARCH ARTICLE


Effects Of Benzene on Human Hematopoiesis



Jorunn Kirkeleit1, Trond Riise1, Bjørn Tore Gjertsen2, Bente E. Moen1, Magne Bråtveit1, Øystein Bruserud 1, *
1 Section for Occupational Medicine, Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen, N-5018, Bergen, Norway
2 Hematology Section, Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, N-5021 Bergen, Norway


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© 2008 Kirkeleit et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Hematology Section, Institute of Medicine, University of Bergen, N-5021 Bergen, Norway; Tel: +4755972997; Fax: +4755972950; E-mail: oystein.bruserud@helse-bergen.no


Abstract

Benzene, an aromatic hydrocarbon that is a natural component of crude oil and natural gas, is toxic to the blood and blood-forming organs. Epidemiological studies have established an association between benzene exposure and acute myeloid leukemia, and increasing evidence also indicates a possible association between benzene and multiple myeloma. A specific benzene-associated myelodysplastic syndrome has also been suggested. Chronic hematotoxic effects of benzene exposure, including reduced lymphocyte, neutrophil and platelet counts in peripheral blood, have been detected at occupational exposure below a level that had previously been considered not to cause any health effects. Whether these abnormalities represent bone marrow damage and/or initial events in the development of a true neoplastic disease is not known. Together with a reported nonlinear relationship between benzene exposure and the level of various metabolites, favoring production of biologically reactive quinones at exposure below 1 part per million, these observations suggest that benzene even at low exposure levels may contribute to the risk of acute myeloid leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome, especially among genetically susceptible individuals.