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Toxicol Pathol. 1998 May-Jun;26(3):428-41.

Spontaneous neoplasm incidences in Fischer 344 rats and B6C3F1 mice in two-year carcinogenicity studies: a National Toxicology Program update.

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  • 1Biostatistics Branch, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709, USA.


Spontaneous neoplasm rates were determined for control Fischer 344 (F344) rats and B6C3F1 mice from 2-yr rodent carcinogenicity studies carried out by the National Toxicology Program (NTP). The most frequently occurring neoplasms in untreated male F344 rats were testicular adenoma (89.1%), mononuclear cell leukemia (50.5%), adrenal gland pheochromocytoma (31.9%), and pituitary gland neoplasms (30.4%). For untreated female F344 rats, the most frequently occurring neoplasms were pituitary gland neoplasms (54.2%), mammary gland fibroadenoma (41.2%), and mononuclear cell leukemia (28.1%). The most frequently occurring neoplasms in untreated male B6C3F1 mice were liver adenoma/carcinoma (42.2%), lung adenoma/carcinoma (20.5%), and malignant lymphoma (8.3%). For untreated female B6C3F1 mice, the most frequently occurring neoplasms were liver adenoma/carcinoma (23.6%), malignant lymphoma (20.9%), and pituitary gland adenoma/carcinoma (14.8%). The tumor rates observed in feeding study (untreated) and inhalation study (chamber) control rats were generally similar. The major exceptions were pituitary gland tumors and testicular adenoma in male F344 rats. The overall incidence of testicular adenoma was much lower in chamber controls (69.4%) than in feeding study controls (89.1%), whereas pituitary gland neoplasm showed the opposite trend (60.7% vs 30.4%). The most likely explanation for this difference is related to the individual housing of chamber controls and the group housing of feeding study controls. Differences in diagnostic criteria may influence reported tumor rates. To ensure consistency and comparability of tumor diagnosis from study to study, the NTP uses rigorous histopathology quality assurance and peer review procedures. Biological factors such as body weight may also affect tumor incidence. For example, increased body weights are associated with increased incidences of certain site-specific neoplasms, especially pituitary gland and mammary gland neoplasms in rats and liver tumors in mice. The presence of Helicobacter hepaticus has been associated with an increased incidence of liver neoplasms in male B6C3F1 mice. Other factors that may produce differences in control tumor rates from study to study include diet, environmental factors, genetic drift, study duration, and survival differences. The NTP database provides historical control data that may be useful in the evaluation of possible chemically related changes in tumor incidence. However, it is essential that the study being evaluated be comparable to those in the NTP database with respect to those factors that are known to influence tumor occurrence.

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