Photo-oxides of Carcinogenic Hydrocarbons

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SUGGESTIONS have sometimes been made that the biological action of carcinogenic hydrocarbons is preceded by conversion, probably by oxidation, into water-soluble derivatives which may more readily be conceived as able to exert a direct action on the cells which eventually become malignant than the water-insoluble parent hydrocarbons. The photo-sensitivity of solutions of some of the more potent carcinogenic hydrocarbons (namely, 3: 4-benzpyrene and 20-methylcholanthrene) is apparent to those accustomed to work with them; moreover, Boyland1 found that alkaline extracts of photo-oxidized carcinogenic hydrocarbons arrest the activity of certain enzymes, and Maisin and de Jonghe2 observed that light accelerates the production of skin tumours in mice by 3: 4-benzpyrene. Most of the known carcinogenic hydrocarbons are anthraoene derivatives and are therefore related to the group of compounds which have been shown by Dufraisse and his collaborators3 to undergo facile photo-oxidation to oxides which are peroxidic in character.

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  1. 1

    Boyland, E., NATURE, 130, 274 (1932); Biochem. J., 27, 791 (1933).

  2. 2

    Maisin, J., and de Jonghe, A., C.R. Soc. Biol., 117, 111 (1934).

  3. 3

    See, for example, Dufraisse, C., Bull. Soc. Chim., (v) 16, 422 (1939).

  4. 4

    Velluz, L., C.R., 208, 1514 (1938).

  5. 5

    Bachmann, W. E., Kennaway, E. L., and Kennaway, N. M., yale J. Biol. and Med., 11, 97 (1938).

  6. 6

    Bachmann, W. E., and Chemerda, J. M., J. Amer. Chem. Soc., 60, 1023 (1938).

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COOK, J., MARTIN, R. & ROE, E. Photo-oxides of Carcinogenic Hydrocarbons. Nature 143, 1020 (1939) doi:10.1038/1431020a0

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