A common impurity of 7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene was more effective than 7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene in inducing morphological alterations, and in causing an increase in glucose uptake, DNA synthesis and cell number in chick-embryo fibroblasts. Gradual morphological transformation follows the increase in DNA synthesis after 2 days when either primary or secondary cultures are treated with 3 microgram of the compound/ml. The compound, isolated from 7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene by alumina column chromatography, was characterized by t.l.c., mass spectroscopy, carbon-hydrogen analysis, u.v. and nuclear-magnetic-resonance spectroscopy and thermal decomposition. It was the photo-oxidation product of 7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene, 7,12-epidioxy-7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene. It is suggested that some of the biological effects observed after treatment of cultures with 7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene may be due in part to the presence of the photo-oxidation product.

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