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Hum Exp Toxicol. 1997 Jan;16(1):3-13.

Methylene chloride induced mouse liver and lung tumours: an overview of the role of mechanistic studies in human safety assessment.

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  • 1Zeneca Central Toxicology Laboratory, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK.

Abstract

B6C3F1 mice exposed to high dose levels of methylene chloride by inhalation for 2 years had an elevated incidence of liver and lung tumours. These tumours were not increased in rats or hamsters exposed under the same or similar conditions. This paper gives an overview of research conducted over the last 10 years into the mechanism of action of methylene chloride as a mouse carcinogen and into the relevance of the mouse data to humans exposed to this chemical. Data are presented on the comparative metabolism and pharmacokinetics of methylene chloride in mice, rats, hamsters and humans, on the toxicity of methylene chloride to the target organs in the mouse, and on the genotoxicity of methylene chloride in vitro and in vivo. The enzyme which activates methylene chloride to its carcinogenic form has been isolated, sequenced, and cloned, and its distribution studied within cells, organs and between species. Evidence has been obtained to show the methylene chloride caused cancer in mice as a result of interactions between metabolites of the glutathione S-transferase pathway and DNA. Damage to mouse lung Clara cells and increased cell division are believed to have influenced the development of the lung tumours. The species specificity was a direct consequence of the very high activity and specific cellular and nuclear localisation of a theta class glutathione S-transferase enzyme which was unique to the mouse. Consequently, DNA damage was not detectable in rats in vivo, or in hamster and human hepatocytes exposed to cytotoxic dose levels of methylene chloride in vitro. These results provide evidence that the mouse is unique in its response to methylene chloride and that it is an inappropriate model for human health assessment.

PMID:
9023569
DOI:
10.1177/0960327197016001021
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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