Fluoride Action Network


F- is not mutagenic in standard bacterial systems, but produces chromosome aberrations and gene mutations in cultured mammalian cells. Although there is disagreement in the literature concerning the ability of F- to induce chromosome aberrations in cultured human and rodent cells, the weight of the evidence leads to the conclusion that F- exposure results in increased chromosome aberrations in these test systems. NaF induced primarily chromatid gaps and chromatid breaks, indicating that the rodent cells are responsive in the G2 stage of the cell cycle. In contrast, studies with synchronized human cells indicated that the S phase was the most sensitive. If F- does have a cell cycle-specific effect, it could be expected that differences in the cell treatment and harvest protocols could lead to conflicting results for the induction of chromosome aberrations. Gene mutations were produced in cultured rodent and human cells in the majority of the studies. Unfortunately, a number of the in vitro and in vivo cytogenetic studies are of questionable utility because of the protocols used, the quality of the responses reported, or the interpretations of the data. The conflicting results in the in vivo cytogenetic studies are difficult to reconcile. There are reports of increased chromosome aberrations in rat bone marrow and testes, but other studies, using similar protocols and dose ranges, have reported no induced chromosome damage. Although some of the studies were performed at toxic levels of F-, other studies, including those that showed positive results, were at F- concentrations (1-5 ppm) equivalent to human exposure levels. In the majority of studies that were reported to be positive, there were high background frequencies, or the investigators reported categories of nuclear or chromosome damage that are difficult to interpret. Interestingly, many of the positive results were obtained when anaphase cells were scored, whereas similar treatment protocols in other laboratories yielded negative results when metaphase cells were the only cell type examined. It is difficult, without additional data, to determine the reasons for finding chromosome breaks in anaphase, but not metaphase, cells. Other reports have presented insufficient information to allow adequate evaluations. Therefore, at this time, the question of whether F- produces chromosome damage in vivo should be considered unresolved.