In parallel with a larger experiment on 4080 rats fed 16 different concentrations of N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA) or N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) from 6 weeks of age, a variety of smaller experiments on a total of 1040 rodents were undertaken and are the subject of the present report. Three separate subjects were addressed.

Studies of 16 different concentrations of N-nitrosopyrrolidine and N-nitrosopiperidine given from age 6 weeks onwards to small groups of rats yielded dose-response relationships for the effects of N-nitrosopyrrolidine on liver tumors and for those of N-nitrosopiperidine on tumors of the liver and upper gastrointestinal tract that resembled those seen for NDMA and NDEA, respectively, except that N-nitrosopyrrolidine and N-nitrosopiperidine were less potent [the respective dose rates needed to halve the proportion of tumorless survivors after 2 years of treatment being approximately 0.4 (males) and 0.6 (females) mg/kg adult body weight/day for each agent]. Alternatively, it was estimated that the risks to rats from lifelong exposure to 1 µg/kg adult body weight/day of each agent might be about 0.1%, and that the risks to rats from lower doses would be proportionately less.

Studies of 16 different concentrations of NDEA on small groups of female mice and female hamsters yielded the types of dose response that would be expected for upper gastrointestinal tumors, liver cell tumors, and Kupffer cell tumors in mice (no other types of liver tumor being produced, in contrast with previous reports) and for tracheal and liver cell tumors in hamsters (no clear effect on upper gastrointestinal tumors being apparent in hamsters). The dose rates needed to halve the proportion of tumorless survivors after 2 years of treatment were approximately 0.3 mg/kg adult body weight/day, i.e., 5 times that for the same agent in rats. In part, however, this may be because treatment started at an older age in these species (see below).

Studies were undertaken of the effects on esophageal and liver tumorigenesis of starting the treatment of rats with NDEA at 3 or at 20 weeks of age instead of at 6 weeks of age (as in the main experiment). Earlier treatment resulted in slightly greater dosage rates, if dosage was measured in mg/kg/day, and hence in a correspondingly more rapid yield of esophageal tumors, but the effect was not large. By contrast, an earlier start to treatment resulted, after a fixed duration of treatment, in animals having a 3-fold higher incidence rate of liver tumors, while a later start resulted in a 2-fold decrease. (The effects at a fixed age would, of course, be even greater.) This indicates a profound influence of nitrosamine treatment of the liver during the first few weeks of life on subsequent tumor onset rates, due to some temporary factor(s) that greatly enhance the sensitivity of the organ to NDEA. All but one of the dose-response relationships studied in these ancillary experiments involved the median time to tumor decreasing with increasing dose rate approximately according to the general rule (dose rate) × (median)2.3 or so = constant The chief exception was tumors of the bile duct in hamsters, where the median varied much more slowly than this.


This experiment was commissioned by MAFF in consultation with the Department of Health and was executed at BIBRA Toxicology International.

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