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Toxicol Sci. 2003 Apr;72(2):223-34.

Alpha 2u-globulin nephropathy and carcinogenicity following exposure to decalin (decahydronaphthalene) in F344/N rats.

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Battelle, Toxicology Northwest, Richland, Washington 99352, USA.


Decalin (decahydronaphthalene) is a widely used industrial solvent known to cause male rat-specific alpha2u-globulin nephropathy. In this project, 13-week and two-year inhalation studies of decalin were conducted consecutively in both sexes of F344/N rats. The key objectives were to (1) characterize the 13-week toxicity of decalin in rats, with an emphasis on nephropathy in males; (2) compare the kidney concentrations of decalin, 2-decalone, and alpha2u-globulin in males over 2 to 13 weeks of decalin exposure; and (3) correlate male rat nephropathy observed in the 13-week study with renal carcinogenicity in the two-year study. F344 rats (M/F) were exposed via whole-body inhalation to 0, 25, 50, 100, 200, or 400 ppm decalin for 13 weeks. Urine was collected at weeks 2 and 6 for creatinine and decalol analyses and at week 12 for clinical urinalysis. Right kidneys were collected from male rats at weeks 2 and 6 and from both sexes at week 13, homogenates were prepared using the whole kidney, and these homogenates were analyzed for alpha2u-globulin, decalin, and 2-decalone. Left kidneys were evaluated for histopathology and cell proliferation utilizing a proliferating cell nuclear antigen technique and counting proximal renal tubular epithelial cells to determine cell labeling indices. Necropsies and histopathologic evaluations were performed at week 13. Decalin exposure caused increases in kidney weight, urinalysis parameters (protein, AST, LDH), kidney alpha2u-globulin concentration, and proximal convoluted renal tubular cell proliferation in males. These changes were accompanied by microscopic lesions (accumulation of hyaline droplets in cortical tubules, regeneration of proximal tubular epithelium, and granular casts in medullary tubules) clearly linked to alpha2u-globulin nephropathy. Both decalin and 2-decalone were related to increased alpha2u-globulin in male kidneys. Kidney concentrations of decalin, 2-decalone, and alpha2u-globulin in exposed females were negligible, while females excreted greater amounts of decalol metabolites in urine than males at weeks 2 and 6. There were no exposure-related microscopic lesions in females. For chronic exposure, F344 rats were exposed via whole-body inhalation to 0, 25, 50 (males only), 100, or 400 ppm decalin for two years. Chronic exposure induced a spectrum of nonneoplastic and neoplastic lesions in the renal cortex of males, ranging from regenerative lesions of chronic nephropathy to tubular carcinomas. Incidences of renal tubular adenoma, tubular carcinoma, combined tubular adenomas and carcinomas, cortical tubular hyperplasia, hyaline droplet accumulation, hyperplasia of pelvic epithelium, and mineralization in renal papilla were increased in exposed males compared to controls. There was a clear increase in the mean severity of chronic nephropathy in decalin-exposed males. It was concluded that the carcinogenic effect on the renal cortical epithelium of male rats exposed to decalin was related to increased turnover of this epithelium, resulting from the cytotoxic effects of alpha2u-globulin accumulation in the renal cortical tubular cell cytoplasm.

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