Thompson CM, Haws LC, Harris MA, Gatto NM, Proctor DM. 2011. Application of the U.S. EPA mode of action framework for purposes of guiding future research: A case study involving the oral carcinogenicity of hexavalent chromium. Toxicol Sci 119(1):20-40.
Mode of action (MOA) analysis provides a systematic description of key events leading to adverse health effects in animal bioassays for the purpose of informing human health risk assessment. Uncertainties and data gaps identified in the MOA analysis may also be used to guide future research to improve understanding of the MOAs underlying a specific toxic response and foster development of toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic models. An MOA analysis, consistent with approaches outlined in the MOA Framework as described in the Guidelines for Carcinogen Risk Assessment, was conducted to evaluate small intestinal tumors observed in mice chronically exposed to relatively high concentrations of hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) in drinking water. Based on review of the literature, key events in the MOA are hypothesized to include saturation of the reductive capacity of the upper gastrointestinal tract, absorption of Cr(VI) into the intestinal epithelium, oxidative stress and inflammation, cell proliferation, direct and/or indirect DNA modification, and mutagenesis. Although available data generally support the plausibility of these key events, several unresolved questions and data gaps were identified, highlighting the need for obtaining critical toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic data in the target tissue and in the low-dose range. Experimental assays that can address these data gaps are discussed along with strategies for comparisons between responsive and nonresponsive tissues and species. This analysis provides a practical application of MOA Framework guidance and is instructive for the design of studies to improve upon the information available for quantitative risk assessment.