The present study was designed to investigate the extent to which a homologous series of 3-alkyfurans, 3-methylfuran, 3-ethylfuran, and 3-pentylfuran, may cause lung injury in mice in order to determine whether the chemical properties of these compounds are related to their toxic potential. The pulmonary concentration and pneumotoxicity of these and various other furan derivatives were also measured to determine if a correlation existed between the magnitude of pneumotoxicity produced by these toxins and their concentration in the lung. Along with the 3-alkylfurans, the other furan derivatives investigated were furan, 2-ethylfuran, 2-furmaide, and 3-methylthiophene. The absence or presence of lung damage was evaluated by light microscopy. The quantitative index used to assess and rank the compounds as pneumotoxins was the incorporation of [14C]thymidine into DNA. The results obtained with the 3-alkylfurans showed that 3-methylfuran and 3-ethylfuran were toxic to the lung whereas 3-pentylfuran did not produce pneumotoxicity. 2-Ethylfuran, furan, and 2-furamide also caused lung damage but 3-methylthiophene did not. All the compound, with the exception of furan, reach the lung in comparable concentrations; therefore, there does not seem to be a correlation between pneumotoxicity and concentration of the toxin in the lung. From these studies, it is alos apparent that but that the toxicity decreases with increasing chain length.
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