Author(s): Ashby J, Elliott BM, Lefevre PA, Styles J, Longstaff E
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Abstract 4-N-Pyrrolidinylazobenzene (4N) is a close structural analog of the rodent liver carcinogen 4-dimethylaminoazobenzene (DAB). This structural similarity led us to evaluate it for genotoxic activity in vitro. We observed activity for 4N and DAB in the BHK cell transformation assay and subsequently in the Salmonella mutation assay of Ames. By a curious chance, Scribner, Miller and Miller, probably prompted by the same structural similarity, had synthesized 4N in the 1960s and found it to be noncarcinogenic to the rodent liver using a bioassay test protocol that detected DAB as carcinogenic. These findings were only described following the publication of our observations made in vitro. The conflict that apparently exists between these data can be interpreted in two separate ways. (a) Scribner et al. have suggested that 4N may be a carcinogenic initiator as opposed to a complete carcinogen like DAB. They also suggested that promotion of 4N-treated rodents with phenobarbitone might lead to the production of liver tumors. (b) We have evaluated the simpler concept that the activities observed for 4N in vitro define a carcinogenic potential that is not realized in vivo due to its rapid detoxification, at least in rodents. The first of these explanations implies that pure carcinogenic initiators may form a separate class of genotoxic agents from complete carcinogens, and perhaps of greater interest, that 4N might provide a valuable model compound for the study of carcinogenic promotion in the rodent liver. The second explanation regards potential carcinogenicity as a single property that can be defined in vitro and which may or may not be expressed in vivo depending on the enzymic environments encountered by the test chemical. It is clearly important to evaluate these different propositions in order to aid progress in the study of carcinogenic promotion, especially in the rodent liver. The presentation will describe our recent studies in vitro and in vivo in this connection.
This article was published in Environ Health Perspect
and referenced in Bioenergetics: Open Access