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In Vivo. 1999 May-Jun;13(3):211-4.

Trichloroethylene. I. Carcinogenicity of trichloroethylene.

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  • 1Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Meiji Pharmaceutical University, Tokyo, Japan.


Trichloroethylene (TCE) as an industrial pollutant may damage human health and can be considered as carcinogen. TCE has been detected in the environment and in various human organs, e.g., liver, kidney and brain etc. There are histological alterations such as depletion of glycogen and hydropic degeneration in the liver, however, other signs of TCE effects can be found in various organs as well. TCE and its metabolites, e.g., trichlorethanol, trichloro-acetic acid and epoxides were recently identified as strong mutagens in Ames mutagenicity test inducing frameshift and base-substitution mutations. TCE induced predominantly hepatocellular carcinoma after long term administration in mice. In these animals, kidneys and liver were supposed to be primary target organs with low epoxy-hydrolase activity. A high level of mitotic gene conversion (or gene rearrangement) was indicated by the metabolism of TCE after repeated administration. Purified TCE by was a weak mutagen in the presence of S9 microsomal fraction of rats and as a consequence, the carcinogenic activity was low in the kidney of rats. However, a dose related increase of Leydig cell tumors was found in male rats.

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