Department of Emergency Medicine
Center for Occupational and Environmental Health

coeh003 ABAlan Buckpitt, PhD
Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences

Dr. Buckpitt is a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine. He received a PhD in Pharmacology from Indiana University. Dr. Buckpitt’s early academic career was spent at the UC Irvine in the Department of Community and Environmental Medicine. He has been at Davis since 1985 and his teaching responsibilities include: basic concepts involved in pharmacokinetics as well as the areas of antineoplastic, antiviral and diuretic drug therapies in the professional (DVM) curriculum. Teaching in the pharmacology/toxicology graduate program includes (PTX 201, absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) as well as site selective toxicity of the lung and kidney. Dr. Buckpitt teaches a specialized course in drug metabolism (VMB 253). His lab focuses on the mechanism by which environmental chemicals produce tissue selective toxicity in the respiratory system.

For many years Dr. Buckpitt's laboratory has focused on the mechanisms of toxicity of naphthalene with the overall goal of understanding whether human populations are susceptible. Recent NHANES reports have demonstrated the presence of naphthalene metabolites in the urine from almost every individual sampled. Most exposures are likely environmental where naphthalene in cigarette smoke is present at substantially higher levels than the other polyaromatic hydrocarbons and any combustion process including wood burning and the use of fossil fuels. Another large source of exposure is in manufacturing where the synthetic product is derived from coal tar and is used as a feedstock for the synthesis of phthalate esters. Naphthalene can constitute 1-3% by weight in jet fuel-used as a universal fuel by the Department of Defense and they are evaluating exposure in response to concerns about worker exposure.

Our strategy in determining the possible untoward effects of exposure in humans is to measure biomarkers which are intimately tied to the mechanisms by which naphthalene produces acute toxicity in rodents. We have established an association between the formation of reactive, electrophilic metabolites of naphthalene and the extent and severity of toxicity in the lungs and are now trying to determine which protein (s)-electrophile interactions may be critical to cellular toxicity. We have established LC/MS/MS methods which are capable of detecting adducted proteins/peptides in urine and determining amino acid and metabolite selectivities in these reactions. We intend to utilize these, and some metabolite measurements that we are still validating, to evaluate profiles in asphalt workers and USAF personnel.