4-(Methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) is reduced to its main metabolite, 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL) in a reaction that is both stereoselective and reversible. (S)-NNAL has been shown to be equivalent to NNK in carcinogenic potency, and significantly more potent than (R)-NNAL. It was hypothesized that stereoselective differences in metabolism or tissue distribution contributed to the difference in carcinogenicity between the enantiomers. The individual NNAL enantiomers were therefore administered to bile duct-cannulated rats. Male Fisher F344 rats received i.v. doses of either (R)-NNAL (n = 10) or (S)-NNAL (n = 9) and bile, urine, blood and tissue samples were collected over 24 h. (R)/(S)-NNAL and metabolites were quantified by HPLC and radioflow detection. NNAL was also collected from the HPLC and silylated, and the two NNAL enantiomers were separated by chiral GC-TEA. (S)-NNAL had a much larger tissue distribution (Vss = 1792 ± 570 ml) than did (R)-NNAL (Vss = 645 ± 230 ml). Overall, (R)-NNAL tended to enter detoxification pathways, particularly glucuronidation, while reversible metabolism of (S)-NNAL to NNK was favored. For example, after (R)-NNAL administration, ∼50% of the dose was excreted as (R)-NNAL-Gluc in bile and urine, and <5% was excreted as NNK or NNK metabolites. In contrast, only 10% of an (S)-NNAL dose was excreted as a glucuronide, while almost 20% of the (S)-NNAL dose was excreted as NNK or NNK metabolites. In tissues, particularly the lung, (S)-NNAL appeared to be stereoselectively retained. These findings suggest that the difference in carcinogenicity between the NNAL enantiomers may be attributed to stereoselective differences in tissue distribution and excretion.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors wish to thank Steven G.Carmella and Zhihong Li for excellent technical assistance. This study was supported by PHS grant CA-81301 from the National Cancer Institute. S.S.H. is an American Cancer Society Research Professor, supported by ACS grant RP-00-138.