Administration of [ring-U-14C]propanil (3,4-dichloropropionanilide) to male Sprague-Dawley rats (30, 100, and 300 mg/kg, ip) increased the formation of methemoglobin at the two highest doses. Following a propanil dose of 100 mg/kg, methemoglobin formation attained a maximum level of 5% by 1.5 hr and declined to normal levels (approximately 2.5%) by 12 hr. Hemoglobin binding attained a maximum level of 50 pmol/mg protein by 12 hr, and remained constant for 24 hr. Following a propanil dose of 300 mg/kg, methemoglobin formation attained a maximum level of 24% by 4.5 hr, and declined to a level of 5% by 24 hr. Hemoglobin binding attained a maximum level of 425 pmol/mg protein by 12 hr, and remained constant for 24 hr. Hemoglobin binding was also detected at the lowest propanil dose (10 pmol/mg protein) even though methemoglobin formation was not observed. HPLC analysis of alkaline-treated hemoglobin from propanil-treated rats indicated the presence of one radiolabeled compound with the same HPLC retention time as 3,4-dichloroaniline. These data are consistent with the concept that propanil is converted to N-hydroxy-3,4-dichloroaniline in the liver. Subsequently, this metabolite enters the erythrocyte and is oxidized by hemoglobin to 3,4-dichloronitrosobenzene with concomitant conversion of oxyhemoglobin to methemoglobin. The 3,4-dichloronitrosobenzene binds to cysteine residues on hemoglobin as the corresponding sulfinic acid amide adduct. These data suggest that human exposure to propanil may be monitored in the absence of observable toxicity by the analysis of propanil metabolites bound to hemoglobin.
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