Benzene is an environmental toxicant found in many consumer products. It is an established human carcinogen and is known to cause acute myeloid leukemia in adults. Epidemiological evidence has since shown that benzene can cross the placenta and affect the fetal liver. Animal studies have shown that in utero exposure to benzene can increase tumor incidence in offspring. Although there have been risk factors established for acute myeloid leukemia, they still do not account for many of the cases. Clearly then, current efforts to elucidate the mechanism by which benzene exerts its carcinogenic properties have been superficial. Owing to the critical role of cell signaling pathways in the development of an organism and its various organ systems, it seems plausible to suspect that these pathways may have a role in leukemogenesis. This review article assesses current evidence of the effects of benzene on critical hematopoietic signaling pathways. Pathways discussed included Hedgehog, Notch/Delta, Wingless/Integrated, nuclear factor-kappaB and others. Following a review of the literature, it seems that current evidence about the effects of benzene on these critical signaling pathways remains limited. Given the important role of these pathways in hematopoiesis, more attention should be given to them.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.