Qualitative and quantitative approaches in the dose–response assessment of genotoxic carcinogens

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Abstract

Qualitative and quantitative approaches are important issues in field of carcinogenic risk assessment of the genotoxic carcinogens. Herein, we provide quantitative data on low-dose hepatocarcinogenicity studies for three genotoxic hepatocarcinogens: 2-amino-3,8-dimethylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoxaline (MeIQx), 2-amino-3-methylimidazo[4,5-f]quinoline (IQ) and N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN). Hepatocarcinogenicity was examined by quantitative analysis of glutathione S-transferase placental form (GST-P) positive foci, which are the preneoplastic lesions in rat hepatocarcinogenesis and the endpoint carcinogenic marker in the rat liver medium-term carcinogenicity bioassay. We also examined DNA damage and gene mutations which occurred through the initiation stage of carcinogenesis. For the establishment of points of departure (PoD) from which the cancer-related risk can be estimated, we analyzed the above events by quantitative no-observed-effect level and benchmark dose approaches. MeIQx at low doses induced formation of DNA–MeIQx adducts; somewhat higher doses caused elevation of 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyquanosine levels; at still higher doses gene mutations occurred; and the highest dose induced formation of GST-P positive foci. These data indicate that early genotoxic events in the pathway to carcinogenesis showed the expected trend of lower PoDs for earlier events in the carcinogenic process. Similarly, only the highest dose of IQ caused an increase in the number of GST-P positive foci in the liver, while IQ-DNA adduct formation was observed with low doses. Moreover, treatment with DEN at low doses had no effect on development of GST-P positive foci in the liver. These data on PoDs for the markers contribute to understand whether genotoxic carcinogens have a threshold for their carcinogenicity. The most appropriate approach to use in low dose–response assessment must be approved on the basis of scientific judgment.

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