The concept of multiple modes of toxic action denotes that an individual chemical can induce two or more toxic effects within the same series of concentrations, for example, reactive toxicity and narcosis. It appears that such toxicity confounds the ability to develop precise predictions of mixture toxicity and makes it more difficult to clearly link a dose-additive combined effect to agents in the mixture having a single common mechanism of toxic action. This initial study of a three-part series begins to examine this issue in greater detail by testing three alpha-halogenated acetonitriles: (1) in sham combinations, (2) in true combinations, and (3) with a nonreactive nonpolar narcotic. Iodo-, bromo-, and chloro-derivatives of acetonitrile were selected for testing based on their electro(nucleo)philic reactivity, via the S(N)2 mechanism, and their time-dependent toxicity individually. Reactivity of each agent was assessed in tests with the model nucleophile glutathione (GSH). Each acetonitrile was reactive with GSH, but the nonpolar narcotic 3-methyl-2-butanone was not. In addition, toxicity of the agents alone and in mixtures was assessed using the Microtox((R)) acute toxicity test at three time points: 15, 30, and 45 min of exposure. Each of the three agents alone had time-dependent toxicity values of about 100%, making it likely that most of the toxicity of these agents, at these times, was due to reactivity. In contrast, the nonpolar narcotic agent lacked time-dependent toxicity. In mixture testing, sham combinations of each acetonitrile showed a combined effect consistent with predicted effects for dose-addition at each time point, as did the sham combination of the nonpolar narcotic. Mixture toxicity results for true acetonitrile combinations were also consistent with dose-addition, but the acetonitrile-nonpolar narcotic combinations were generally not consistent with either the dose-addition or independence models of combined effect. Based on current understanding of mixture toxicity, these results were expected and provide a foundation for the second and third studies in the series.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/terry_schultz/12/