Predicting the Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Humans from Rodent Bioassay Data
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CitationGoodman, Gay, and Richard Wilson. 1991. Predicting the carcinogenicity of chemicals in humans from rodent bioassay data. Environmental Health Perspectives 94: 195-218.
AbstractRegulatory agencies currently rely on rodent carcinogenicity bioassay data to predict whether or not a given chemical poses a carcinogenic threat to humans. We argue that it is always more useful to know a chemical's carcinogenic potency (with confidence limits) than to be able to say only qualitatively that it has been found to be a carcinogen. In a typical bioassay, a chemical is administered to groups of 50 to 100 rodents at the highest feasible level (the maximum tolerated dose) and rarely at less than 1/10 this dose in order to maximize the statistical significance of any increase in tumors that might result. Recently, much experimental work has focused on the mechanisms by which site-specific toxicity arising from chronic administration at the maximum tolerated dose may lead to carcinogenicity. Extrapolation of high-dose results to low doses does not take into consideration the possibility of a threshold dose, below which the carcinogenic potency is much lower or even zero. Threshold dose-response phenomena may be much more relevant to the etiology of cancer in the rodent bioassays than was earlier realized; if so, there is an even greater need for establishing dose-dependent potency estimates. The emphasis of this review is on the interspecies comparison of high-dose potencies. The qualitative and quantitative comparison of carcinogenicities between mice and rats and between rodents and humans is reviewed and discussed. We conclude that there is a good qualitative (yes/no) correlation for both the rat/mouse and the rodent/human comparison. There is also a good correlation of the carcinogenic potencies between rats and mice, and the upper limits on potencies in humans are consistent with rodent potencies for those chemicals for which human exposure data are available. For the rodent/human comparison, the best estimate of the interspecies potency factor is lognormally distributed around 1 when the potencies in both species are measured in units of (mg/kg-day)-1.
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