Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 2875-2893; doi:10.3390/ijerph9082875
Review

Leukemia and Benzene

Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, Rutgers the State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA
Received: 14 June 2012; in revised form: 5 July 2012 / Accepted: 7 August 2012 / Published: 14 August 2012
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Abstract: Excessive exposure to benzene has been known for more than a century to damage the bone marrow resulting in decreases in the numbers of circulating blood cells, and ultimately, aplastic anemia. Of more recent vintage has been the appreciation that an alternative outcome of benzene exposure has been the development of one or more types of leukemia. While many investigators agree that the array of toxic metabolites, generated in the liver or in the bone marrow, can lead to traumatic bone marrow injury, the more subtle mechanisms leading to leukemia have yet to be critically dissected. This problem appears to have more general interest because of the recognition that so-called “second cancer” that results from prior treatment with alkylating agents to yield tumor remissions, often results in a type of leukemia reminiscent of benzene-induced leukemia. Furthermore, there is a growing literature attempting to characterize the fine structure of the marrow and the identification of so called “niches” that house a variety of stem cells and other types of cells. Some of these “niches” may harbor cells capable of initiating leukemias. The control of stem cell differentiation and proliferation via both inter- and intra-cellular signaling will ultimately determine the fate of these transformed stem cells. The ability of these cells to avoid checkpoints that would prevent them from contributing to the leukemogenic response is an additional area for study. Much of the study of benzene-induced bone marrow damage has concentrated on determining which of the benzene metabolites lead to leukemogenesis. The emphasis now should be directed to understanding how benzene metabolites alter bone marrow cell biology.
Keywords: benzene; bone marrow; niche; leukemia; benzene metabolism; stem cells; cell signaling; signal transduction; cytokines; cancer stem cells

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MDPI and ACS Style

Snyder, R. Leukemia and Benzene. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 2875-2893.

AMA Style

Snyder R. Leukemia and Benzene. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2012; 9(8):2875-2893.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Snyder, Robert. 2012. "Leukemia and Benzene." Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 9, no. 8: 2875-2893.

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