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Toxicological evaluation of smokeless tobacco: 2-year chronic toxicity and carcinogenicity feeding study in Wistar Han rats

Theophilus, Eugenia H., Hayes, Johnnie R., Ayres, Paul H., Morgan, Walter T., Potts, Ryan J., Garner, Charles D., Fallacara, Dawn M., Hejtmancik, Milton R., Singer, Allen W.
Experimental and toxicologic pathology 2015 v.67 no.10 pp. 539-550
body weight, carcinogenicity, carcinoma, chronic exposure, chronic toxicity, cotinine, epidemiology, epididymis, feed intake, females, histopathology, humans, males, mammary glands, mesothelioma, nicotine, pharmacokinetics, rats, smokeless tobacco
A comprehensive 2-year oral chronic toxicity/carcinogenicity study was conducted with smokeless tobacco using modern toxicological test methods and well-accepted standards. The study included a 1-year interim subgroup to assess toxicity at that intermediate time point. Test groups consisted of a tobacco blend (B) used in snus, and an aqueous tobacco extract of that tobacco blend (E) administered at 0.2, 2, or 5mgnicotine/kg body weight/day via dosed feed to male and female Wistar Han rats. The dosages were selected to simulate potential exposure in humans ingesting smokeless tobacco or an aqueous extract of smokeless tobacco (the latter intended to simulate a snus extract, to enable bridging these data to snus epidemiology data). The following endpoints were evaluated: clinical observations, body weights, feed consumption (FC), ophthalmic exams, toxicokinetics, clinical pathology, gross pathology, and histopathology. During the 2-year study, clear treatment-related, dose-responsive effects included: (1) increases in plasma nicotine and cotinine (indicating that animals were appropriately exposed to levels relevant to human exposure) and (2) decreases in body weights with some alterations in FC. At the 2-year time point, two tumor types (in the highest B doses) displayed statistically significantly increased incidence trends vs. controls: (1) uterine carcinoma in females and (2) epididymal mesothelioma in males. Three tumor types displayed statistically significantly decreased incidence trends: (1) mammary gland adenomas in females, (2) skin basal cell carcinomas in females, and (3) thyroid follicular cell adenomas in males. These increases (and decreases) in tumor trends were interpreted as not being treatment-related because: (1) there were no preneoplastic or related non-neoplastic histopathological findings in the treated rats at the 1-year or 2-year time points to suggest that any of these neoplastic findings were treatment-related and (2) the tumor morphologies and incidences were generally within the expected range of historical controls for Wistar Han rats. Findings from this study indicate that chronic exposure of male and female Wistar Han rats to either a tobacco blend used in snus, or a tobacco extract of that blend does not lead to increased toxicity or carcinogenicity, based on the specified outcomes measured.