Amino alcohols are used as emulsifying agents in dry-cleaning soaps, wax removers, cosmetics, paints and insecticides. The cytotoxicities of 12 amino alcohols, which differed in chain length, position of the amino and alcohol groups, and the presence of an additional phenyl group, were determined by the neutral red uptake inhibition assay with normally cultured, glutathione-depleted or antioxidant-enriched Fa32 rat hepatoma-derived cells. Glutathione depletion and antioxidant enrichment were achieved by including 50(M L-buthionine-S,R-sulphoximine (BSO) or 100(M (-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E) in the culture medium for 24 hours before and during the assay. The cytotoxicity of the amino alcohols observed after treatment for 24 hours was expressed as the concentration of compound needed to induce a 50% reduction in neutral red uptake (NI50). The observed NI50 values ranged from 3mM to 30mM. The individual stereoisomers and a racemic mixture of 1-amino-2-propanol exhibited similar cytotoxicities (with normally cultured Fa32 cells, and vitamin E- and BSO-treated cultures). Similar NI50 values for D-(+)-2-amino-1-propanol, 3-amino-1-propanol and the L-, D- or DL- forms of 1-amino-2-propanol, indicated that the position of the amino group had little influence on the cytotoxicities of the amino alcohols. In contrast, the position of the hydroxyl group appeared to play an important role for the toxicity of the compound, as indicated by the significantly different NI50 values for 4-amino-1-butanol and 4-amino-2-butanol. An additional phenyl group greatly increased the cytotoxicity of 2-amino-1,3-propanediol. For most of the compounds, cytotoxicity increased when GSH was depleted, and decreased when the cells were enriched with vitamin E. This indicated that most of the tested chemicals interact with GSH, either directly or indirectly, by processes which generate oxygen free-radicals. Decreased toxicity was found for most of the chemicals administered to vitamin E-enriched cells, indicating that reactive oxygen species could be involved in the toxicity of the amino alcohols.
2002. Vol. 30, no 3, 309-12 p.