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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Promotion of thyroid tumors in rats by pregnenolone-16alpha-carbonitrile (PCN) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB).

Pregnenolone-16alpha-carbonitrile (PCN) and Aroclor 1254 (PCB) both reduce serum thyroid hormone levels in rats, but only PCN consistently produces an increase in serum thyrotropin (TSH). PCN-mediated increases in TSH result in increased thyroid follicular cell proliferation and hyperplasia, which may represent early events on a morphological continuum leading to neoplasia. The purpose of this study was to assess whether PCN, a compound that increases serum TSH, and PCB, which does not increase TSH, promote thyroid tumors in a two-stage carcinogenesis model. Male SD rats were administered the thyroid tumor initiator diisopropanolnitrosamine (2.5 g/kg, sc), and after seven days were fed control diet, diet containing 1000 ppm PCN, or diet containing 100 ppm PCB for 19 weeks. Body weights were unaffected by PCN treatment, but were reduced 21% after 19 weeks of PCB treatment compared to control. PCN treatment significantly reduced serum T4 through week 3 before returning to control concentrations, whereas T4 levels following PCB treatment fell below detection limits by week 3 and remained drastically reduced through week 19. TSH concentrations in PCN-treated rats increased three-fold at week 2, then declined to near control values at week 19. After one week of PCB treatment, TSH concentrations reached nearly twice that of controls, and were sustained until week 6. The incidence of thyroid follicular cell proliferative lesions, including cystic and follicular hyperplasia, cystic and follicular adenoma, and follicular carcinoma, was significantly increased following PCN treatment, but not following PCB treatment. PCB treatment caused an increase in thyroid carcinomas (4 of 22 rats) not associated with the proliferative-type lesions produced by PCN, despite an increase in TSH serum concentrations. In conclusion, PCN appears to promote thyroid tumors in a manner consistent with known effects of excessive TSH stimulation. However, thyroid carcinomas stemming from PCB treatment indicate that separate mechanisms exist for the production of thyroid cancer in rodents by chemicals classically considered microsomal enzyme inducers.[1]


  1. Promotion of thyroid tumors in rats by pregnenolone-16alpha-carbonitrile (PCN) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB). Vansell, N.R., Muppidi, J.R., Habeebu, S.M., Klaassen, C.D. Toxicol. Sci. (2004) [Pubmed]
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