Journal Article

The effect of tamoxifen and two of its non-isomerizable fixed-ring analogs on multistage rat hepatocarcinogenesis

Y.P. Dragan, S. Fahey, E. Nuwaysir, C. Sattler, K. Babcock, J. Vaughan, R. McCague, V.C. Jordan and H.C. Pitot

in Carcinogenesis

Volume 17, issue 3, pages 585-594
Published in print March 1996 | ISSN: 0143-3334
e-ISSN: 1460-2180 | DOI:
The effect of tamoxifen and two of its non-isomerizable fixed-ring analogs on multistage rat hepatocarcinogenesis

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Long-term treatment of breast cancer patients with tamoxifen has prompted concern over potential toxicity of this drug with chronic administration. Since tamoxifen has estrogenic action in the rat liver and estrogenic agents can increase hepatoma incidence in rats, tamoxifen and two non-isomerizable, fixed-ring analogs (FRT1 and FRT2) were evaluated as promoting agents in a two-stage model of hepatocarcinogenesis in female Fischer F344 rats. The rats were subjected to 70% partial hepatectomy and half of the animals were administered the initiating agent, diethylnitrosamine (DEN; 10 mg/kg body wt), while the other half were not initiated. Groups of initiated and uninitiated animals were allowed to recover for 2 weeks and were then administered tamoxifen or one of the fixed-ring analogs admixed into AIN-76A diet at 25, 100 or 250 mg/kg diet. After 6 months of anti-estrogen administration the rats were sacrificed and uterine weights, blood levels of anti-estrogen, and liver histopathology were assessed. Uterine weights were decreased 2- to 3-fold by each of the agents, consistent with an anti-estrogenic action in the rat. The serum levels in rats administered 250 mg anti-estrogen/ kg diet for 6 months were 320 ± 20 ng/ml for tamoxifen, 320 ± 10 for FRT1 and 350 ± 20 for FRT2. The liver levels after a 6 month administration of 250 mg antiestrogen/kg diet were 13 870 ± 860 ng/g for tamoxifen, 13 300 ± 860 for FRT1 and 26 900 ± 1900 for FRT2. A dose-dependent increase in serum and liver level of each compound was noted when measured at the 6 month time point. The number and percentage of the liver occupied by altered hepatic foci (AHF) were determined by quantitative stereology. A dose-dependent increase above initiated controls was observed in the initiated, tamoxifen-treated rats. Both fixed-ring analogs also increased the number and size of AHF compared with initiated controls, but were less potent than tamoxifen, suggesting that tamoxifen has an intrinsic promoting action in the liver that is independent of its ability to isomerize to more potent estrogenic compounds. In addition, the fixed-ring analogs have a weaker promoting activity in the rat liver than does tamoxifen. This may be due to pharmacokinetic differences at the lower two doses, but it is independent of achieved serum level at the highest dose and hence may reflect differences in intrinsic activity of these compounds. Thus tamoxifen and the two fixed-ring analogs promote the development of rat hepatocarcinogenesis.

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Subjects: Clinical Cytogenetics and Molecular Genetics

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