The effect of nitrous oxide on intracellular folate metabolism of the human bone marrow was studied in vitro. Bone marrow cells, obtained from healthy volunteers, were incubated with 5 × 10−8m-[3H]5-formyltetrahydrofolate (5-formylTHF) for 18 hr to label intracellular folate pools. Subsequently the cells were exposed to nitrous oxide for up to 10 hr, and the intracellular folate coenzyme levels were quantitated by HPLC. The dU suppression test was carried out on part of the bone marrow samples in order to measure folate-dependent synthesis of the DNA precursor thymidylate (dTMP). After 5 hr exposure to nitrous oxide the de novo dTMP synthesis of the bone marrow cells was significantly decreased (P < 0.05), and this reduced synthesis persisted at 10 hr. After both 5 and 10 hr of exposure to nitrous oxide the amount of 10-formylTHF was reduced (P < 0.05) while that of 5-methylTHF was increased (P < 0.05). At 10 hr the level of THF was also decreased (P < 0.05). This study shows that nitrous oxide exposure of human bone marrow cells causes a redistribution of the various folate coenzymes which supports the idea of ‘functional cobalamin deficiency’. Moreover it seems probable that following prolonged exposure to nitrous oxide, not only folate-dependent dTMP synthesis but also de novo purine synthesis is reduced.

doi.org/10.1016/0887-2333(92)90006-D, hdl.handle.net/1765/56781
Toxicology in Vitro
Department of Hematology

Ermens, A., Schoester, M., Lindemans, J., & Abels, L. (1992). Effect of nitrous oxide on folate coenzyme distribution and de novo synthesis of thymidylate in human bone marrow cells. Toxicology in Vitro, 6(2), 133–137. doi:10.1016/0887-2333(92)90006-D