Borghoff SJ, Fitch SE, Black MVB, McMullen PD, Andersen ME, Chappell GA. 2021. A systematic approach to evaluate plausible modes of [action] for mouse lung tumors in mice exposed to 4-methylimidozole. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 124:104977; DOI: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2021.104977.
The National Toxicology Program (NTP) reported that chronic dietary exposure to 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI) increased the incidence of lung adenomas/carcinomas beyond the normally high spontaneous rate in B6C3F1 mice. To examine plausible modes of action (MoAs) for mouse lung tumors (MLTs) upon exposure to high levels of 4-MeI, and their relevance in assessing human risk, a systematic approach was used to identify and evaluate mechanistic data (in vitro and in vivo) in the primary and secondary literature, along with high-throughput screening assay data. Study quality, relevance, and activity of mechanistic data identified across the evidence-base were organized according to key characteristics of carcinogens (KCCs) to identify potential key events in known or novel MLT MoAs. Integration of these evidence streams provided confirmation that 4-MeI lacks genotoxic and cytotoxic activity with some evidence to support a lack of mitogenic activity. Further evaluation of contextual and chemical-specific characteristics of 4-MeI was consequently undertaken. Due to lack of genotoxicity, along with transcriptomic and histopathological lung changes up to 28 and 90 days of exposure, the collective evidence suggests MLTs observed following exposure to high levels of 4-MeI develop at a late stage in the mouse chronic bioassay, albeit the exact MoA remains unclear.