DOI: 10.1093/toxsci/kfae012 ISSN: 1096-6080

A critical review of advances in tumor metabolism abnormalities induced by nitrosamine disinfection by-products in drinking water

Mingjun Sun, Weitao Shen, Xinxin Guo, Yinghao Liao, Yang Huang, Mohan Hu, Ping Ye, Ran Liu
  • Toxicology


Intensified sanitation practices amid the recent severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) outbreak might result in the increased release of chloramine disinfectants into surface water, significantly promoting the formation of nitrosamine disinfection by-products (DBPs) in drinking water. Unfortunately, these nitrosamine DBPs exhibit significant genotoxic, carcinogenic, and mutagenic properties, whereas chlorinating disinfectants remain in global practice. The current review provides valuable insights into the occurrence, identification, contamination status, exposure limits, and toxicity of the new unregulated disinfection by-products (nitrosamine DBPs) in drinking water. As a result, concentrations of nitrosamine DBPs far exceed allowable limits in drinking water, and prolonged exposure has the potential to cause metabolic disorders, a critical step in tumor initiation and progression. Importantly, based on recent research, we have concluded the role of nitrosamines DBPs in different metabolic pathways. Remarkably, nitrosamine DBPs can induce chronic inflammation and initiate tumors by activating sphingolipid and polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism. Regarding amino acid and nucleotide metabolism, nitrosamine DBPs can inhibit tryptophan metabolism and de novo nucleotide synthesis. Moreover, inhibition of de novo nucleotide synthesis fails to repair DNA damage induced by nitrosamines. Additionally, the accumulation of lactate induced by nitrosamine DBPs may act as a pivotal signaling molecule in communication within the tumor microenvironment. However, with the advancement of tumor metabolomics, understanding the role of nitrosamine DBPs in causing cancer by inducing metabolic abnormalities significantly lags behind, and specific mechanisms of toxic effects are not clearly defined. Urgently, further studies exploring this promising area are needed.

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