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Crit Rev Toxicol. 2018 Apr;48(4):312-337. doi: 10.1080/10408444.2017.1423462. Epub 2018 Feb 12.

Development of an adverse outcome pathway for chemically induced hepatocellular carcinoma: case study of AFB1, a human carcinogen with a mutagenic mode of action.

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a Ramboll Environ US Corporation , Little Rock , AR , USA.
b Rita Schoeny, LLC , Washington , DC , USA.
c American Chemistry Council , Washington , DC , USA.
d Olin Corporation , Midland , MI , USA.


Adverse outcome pathways (AOPs) are frameworks starting with a molecular initiating event (MIE), followed by key events (KEs) linked by KE relationships (KERs), ultimately resulting in a specific adverse outcome. Relevant data for the pathway and each KE/KER are evaluated to assess biological plausibility, weight-of-evidence, and confidence. We aimed to describe an AOP relevant to chemicals directly inducing mutation in cancer critical gene(s), via the formation of chemical-specific pro-mutagenic DNA adduct(s), as an early critical step in tumor etiology. Such chemicals have mutagenic modes-of-action (MOA) for tumor induction. To assist with developing this AOP, Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) was selected as a case study because it has a rich database and is considered to have a mutagenic MOA. AFB1 information was used to define specific KEs, KERs, and to inform development of a generic AOP for mutagen-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In assessing the AFB1 information, it became clear that existing data are, in fact, not optimal and for some KEs/KERs, the definitive data are not available. In particular, while there is substantial information that AFB1 can induce mutations (based on a number of mutation assays), the definitive evidence - the ability to induce mutation in the cancer critical gene(s) in the tumor target tissue - is not available. Thus, it is necessary to consider the patterns of results in the weight-of-evidence for KEs and KERs. It was important to determine whether there was sufficient evidence that AFB1 can induce the necessary critical mutations early in the carcinogenic process, which was the case.


Aflatoxin; DNA adducts; hazard assessment; mutagenic; mutation; p53; pre-neoplastic lesions; risk assessment; weight-of-evidence

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