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Int J Toxicol. 2002 May-Jun;21(3):171-9.

Evaluation of the carcinogenic potential of insulin glargine (LANTUS) in rats and mice.

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  • 1Aventis Pharma Germany, Hattersheim, Germany.


Insulin glargine (LANTUS) is a new, long-acting insulin analogue with a stable profile of action. The purpose of these studies was to evaluate the carcinogenic potential of insulin glargine in rats and mice. General toxicity studies were conducted in NMRI mice (3 months' duration) and rats (Wistar rats in the 3- and 6-month studies and Sprague-Dawley rats in the 12-month study) to determine the optimal dose of insulin glargine for long-term carcinogenicity studies. Based on these results, groups of Sprague-Dawley rats or NMRI mice (50 male, 50 female) received a daily subcutaneous dose of 2, 5, or 12.5 IU/kg of insulin glargine or 12.5 (mice) or 5 IU/kg (rats) of the reference insulin (NPH insulin) in a lifetime study. Similarly treated control and vehicle-control animals received isotonic sodium chloride (NaCl) solution or the vehicle solution, respectively. In mice, the mortality rate was comparable between all groups. In rats, the mortality rate compared with the NaCl control was significantly increased in the following groups: males treated with the vehicle control, all insulin glargine and NPH insulin groups, and in females in the high-dose insulin glargine and NPH insulin groups. There was no difference in the incidence of mammary tumors reported in both mice and rats when comparing the insulin glargine groups with the NaCl, vehicle-control, or the NPH insulin groups. In rats and mice, the distribution of subcutaneous malignant fibrous histiocytomas found at the injection site were not dose-dependent. These lesions are a rodent-specific event and were related to chronic tissue irritation and inflammation. In rats, neuronal necrosis of the cerebrum was attributed to persistent repeated episodes of hypoglycemia induced by high doses of insulin. In these studies, there were no neoplastic findings to indicate that insulin glargine had a systemic carcinogenic potential in mice or rats.

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