Empirical analysis of BMD metrics in genetic toxicology part II: in vivo potency comparisons to promote reductions in the use of experimental animals for genetic toxicity assessment

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Abstract

Genotoxicity tests have traditionally been used only for hazard identification, with qualitative dichotomous groupings being used to identify compounds that have the capacity to induce mutations and/or cytogenetic alterations. However, there is an increasing interest in employing quantitative analysis of in vivo dose–response data to derive point of departure (PoD) metrics that can be used to establish human exposure limits or margins of exposure (MOEs), thereby supporting human health risk assessments and regulatory decisions. This work is an extension of our companion article on in vitro dose–response analyses and outlines how the combined benchmark dose (BMD) approach across included covariates can be used to improve the analyses and interpretation of in vivo genetic toxicity dose–response data. Using the BMD-covariate approach, we show that empirical comparisons of micronucleus frequency dose–response data across multiple studies justifies dataset merging, with subsequent analyses improving the precision of BMD estimates and permitting attendant potency ranking of seven clastogens. Similarly, empirical comparisons of Pig-a mutant phenotype frequency data collected in males and females justified dataset merging across sex. This permitted more effective scrutiny regarding the effect of post-exposure sampling time on the mutagenicity of N-ethyl-N-nitrosourea observed in reticulocytes and erythrocytes in the Pig-a assay. The BMD-covariate approach revealed tissue-specific differences in the induction of lacZ transgene mutations in Muta™Mouse specimens exposed to benzo[a]pyrene (BaP), with the results permitting the formulation of mechanistic hypotheses regarding the observed potency ranking. Lastly, we illustrate how historical dose–response data for assessments that examined numerous doses (i.e. induced lacZ mutant frequency (MF) across 10 doses of BaP) can be used to improve the precision of BMDs derived from datasets with far fewer doses (i.e. lacZ MF for 3 doses of dibenz[a,h]anthracene). Collectively, the presented examples illustrate how innovative use of the BMD approach can permit refinement of the use of in vivo data; improving the efficacy of experimental animal use in genetic toxicology without sacrificing PoD precision.

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