Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids: Metabolic Activation Pathways Leading to Liver Tumor Initiation
Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) and PA N -oxides are a class of phytochemical carcinogens contained in over 6000 plant species spread around the world. It has been estimated that approximately half of the 660 PAs and PA N -oxides that have been characterized are cytotoxic, genotoxic, and tumorigenic. It was recently determined that a genotoxic mechanism of liver tumor initiation mediated by PA-derived DNA adducts is a common metabolic activation pathway of a number of PAs. We proposed this set of PA-derived DNA adducts could be a common biological biomarker of PA exposure and a potential biomarker of PA-induced liver tumor formation. We have also found that several reactive secondary pyrrolic metabolites can dissociate and interconvert to other secondary pyrrolic metabolites, resulting in the formation of the same exogenous DNA adducts. This present perspective reports the current progress on these new findings and proposes future research needed for obtaining a greater understanding of the role of this activation pathway and validating the use of this set of PA-derived DNA adducts as a biological biomarker of PA-induced liver tumor initiation. Graphic Abstract
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