International Journal of Medical Sciences

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24 March 2018

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Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(10):961-969. doi:10.7150/ijms.20121

Research Paper

Genotoxicity of a Low-Dose Nitrosamine Mixture as Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts in NIH3T3 Cells

Hai-yan Wang1, Ming Qin2, Lei Dong1, Jia-ying Lv3, Xia Wang1✉

1. Key Laboratory of Public Health Safety, Ministry of Education, Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Fudan University, 130 Dongan Road Shanghai, 200032, China;
2. Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Fudan University, 826 Zhangheng Road, Shanghai, 201203, China;
3. Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Fudan University, Shanghai, 200032, China.


N-nitrosamines (NAms), which can arise as byproducts of disinfection agents, are reportedly found in drinking water, and their potential carcinogenicity is a concern; however, little research exists regarding the genotoxicity or carcinogenicity of NAms exposure as a low-dose mixture. The three most common NAms components in China's drinking water are N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) and N-nitrosomethylethylamine (NMEA). Thus, we measured the genotoxic and carcinogenic potential of these compounds and measured the cell cycle and gene expression. The data show that exposure to the NAms-mixture doubled the revertants in the TA98 and TA100 S. typhimurium strains and increased the DNA double-strand breaks and the micronuclear frequency in the NIH3T3 cells compared to a single exposure. After long-term NAms mixture exposure, a malignant transformation of NIH3T3 and a significantly increased G2/M distribution were observed. Furthermore, P53, CDK1, P38, CDC25A and CyclinB expressions were down-regulated in the NAms-mixture exposure group; however, P21 and GADD45A genes were up-regulated. Interestingly, the CHK1/CHK2 and CDC25A genes had two responses, depending on the NAms concentrations. Thus, we observed mutagenic, genotoxic and carcinogenic effects after a low-dose NAms-mixture exposure in drinking water, and DNA repair and apoptosis pathways may contribute to these adverse effects.

Keywords: Nitrosamines, disinfection byproducts, mixed exposure, genotoxicity, mutagenicity, transformation, DNA repair.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
How to cite this article:
Wang Hy, Qin M, Dong L, Lv Jy, Wang X. Genotoxicity of a Low-Dose Nitrosamine Mixture as Drinking Water Disinfection Byproducts in NIH3T3 Cells. Int J Med Sci 2017; 14(10):961-969. doi:10.7150/ijms.20121. Available from