In vitro metabolism of the brominated flame retardants 2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and bis(2-ethylhexyl) 2,3,4,5-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) in human and rat tissues.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Due to the phaseout of polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants, new chemicals, such as 2-ethylhexyl-2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and bis(2-ethylhexyl) 2,3,4,5-tetrabromophthalate (TBPH), have been used as replacements in some commercial flame retardant mixtures. Both chemicals have been detected in indoor dust at concentrations approaching the concentrations of PBDEs; however, little is known about their fate, metabolism, or toxicity. The goal of this study was to investigate the potential metabolism of these two brominated flame retardants in human and rat tissues by conducting in vitro experiments with liver and intestinal subcellular fractions. In all the experiments, TBB was consistently metabolized to 2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoic acid (TBBA) via cleavage of the 2-ethylhexyl chain without requiring any added cofactors. TBBA was also formed in purified porcine carboxylesterase but at a much faster rate of 6.29 ± 0.58 nmol min(-1) mg protein(-1). The estimated K(m) and V(max) values for TBB metabolism in human microsomes were 11.1 ± 3.9 μM and 0.644 ± 0.144 nmol min(-1) mg protein(-1), respectively. A similar K(m) of 9.3 ± 2.2 μM was calculated for porcine carboxylesterase, indicating similar enzyme specificity. While the rapid formation of TBBA may reduce the bioaccumulation potential of TBB in mammals and may be useful as a biomarker of TBB exposure, the toxicity of this brominated benzoic acid is unknown and may be a concern based on its structural similarity to other toxic pollutants. In contrast to TBB, no metabolites of TBPH were detected in human or rat subcellular fractions. However, a metabolic product of TBPH, mono(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate (TBMEHP), was formed in purified porcine carboxylesterase at an approximate rate of 1.08 pmol min(-1) mg protein(-1). No phase II metabolites of TBBA or TBMEHP were observed. More research is needed to understand the in vivo toxicokinetics and health effects of these compounds given their current ubiquitous presence in most US households and the resulting probability of chronic exposure, particularly to young children.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Roberts, SC; Macaulay, LJ; Stapleton, HM

Published Date

  • July 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 25 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 1435 - 1441

PubMed ID

  • 22575079

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC3398233

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5010

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0893-228X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/tx300086x


  • eng