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Toxicon. 1994 Aug;32(8):891-908.

Toxicity and carcinogenicity of riddelliine following 13 weeks of treatment to rats and mice.

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  • 1National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.


Toxicity studies of riddelliine, a member of a class of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, were conducted because riddelliine has been found to contaminate human food sources. Groups of male and female Fischer rats were administered riddelliine by gavage in phosphate buffer at doses up to 10 mg/kg, and B6C3F1 mice at doses up to 25 mg/kg, five times a week. The animals were necropsied after 13 weeks of treatment or after a 7 or 14 week recovery period. Body weight gains were inversely related to dose in both rats and mice. Body weight of the 1.0 and 3.3 mg/kg female rats and 10.0 and 25.0 mg/kg mice remained depressed during the 14 week recovery period. At 13 weeks, significant findings included dose-related hepatopathy and intravascular macrophage accumulation in rats and hepatocytomegaly in mice. During the 14 week recovery period these lesions persisted and hepatic foci of cellular alteration in male rats and bile duct proliferation in female rats and male and female mice increased in severity. In the 10 mg/kg group of female rats adenomas of the liver occurred in two of ten at 13 weeks and in one of five at the 14 week recovery period. In separate studies, the frequency of micronucleated erythrocytes in peripheral blood was increased in male mice administered a single dose (150 mg/kg) of riddelliine. Increases in unscheduled DNA and S-phase syntheses were detected in primary hepatocytes from rats and mice treated with riddelliine at doses up to 25.0 mg/kg for 5 or 30 days. In mating trials in rats and mice, pup weights from treated dams at birth and during suckling were lower than controls. Thus, riddelliine is genotoxic and carcinogenic and may cross the placenta and/or be found in milk, causing developmental toxicity in rodents.

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