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Toxicol Pathol. 1988;16(2):198-204.

Intestinal cancer induced by N-nitroso compounds.

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NCI-Frederick Cancer Research Facility, BRI-Basic Research Program, Maryland 21701.


Several N-nitroso compounds induce tumors of the colon, and some induce tumors in other parts of the intestinal tract as well. The nitrosamines that induce colon tumors are beta oxidized n-propyl-nitrosamines. These require metabolic activation, as do 1,2-dimethylhydrazine, azomethane, and azoxymethane, another group of colon carcinogens. Several nitrosoalkylureas induce tumors in rat colons after oral administration, although the monoalkylnitrosoureas are fairly unstable and might not be expected to reach the colon. However, monoalkylnitrosoureas are equally effective with the much more stable dialkylnitrosoureas. Although nitrosomethylurea did not induce colon tumors under these conditions, nitrosoethylurea did, together with nitrosodiethylurea and other nitrosoethylalkylureas. Nitroso-n-butyl-, n-amyl-, n-hexyl-urea, and nitrosohydroxyethylurea also induced colon tumors, but the last, like nitrosoethylurea, also induced tumors of the duodenum and ileum. In most of these experiments male rats were more susceptible to induction of intestinal tumors than female rats. An explanation for the differences between these compounds of similar structure might be found in variations in their ability to alkylate DNA in intestinal cells, or in differences in stability of the alkylated product between the compounds. The physical properties of the compounds might also modulate the process of carcinogenesis, however.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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