Groups of 6-wk-old male F344/NCr rats received a single i.v. injection of either vehicle or N-nitrosomethylurea (Cas: 684-93-5) (MNU) at a dose of 41.2 mg/kg body weight. Two wk later, groups of rats were placed on iodine-deficient, iodine-adequate, or commercial (Wayne Lab Blox) diets, or one of these diets and without previous MNU injection. Animals were sacrificed at either 52 or 77 wk, or when they became moribund. Carcinogen-treated rats on the iodine-deficient diet for up to 52 wk had significantly increased thyroid gland weights and increased incidences of both thyroid follicular cell carcinoma (90%) and diffuse pituitary thyrotroph hyperplasia (90%) at 52 wk. The majority of the follicular carcinomas were transplantable and invasive into the mammary fat pad of weanling F344/NCr rats. No other tumors induced by MNU were affected by the iodine-deficient diets. Rats fed the iodine-deficient diet without MNU injection had a 40% incidence of thyroid follicular adenomas at 52 wk and 60% at 77 wk, and a 10% incidence of follicular carcinomas at 77 wk. Thus this experiment provided evidence that the iodine-deficient diet is a potent promoter of thyroid tumors initiated by MNU and carcinogenic by itself. In addition, pituitary tumors were found in 29 of the 58 rats treated with the carcinogen alone, compared to only 3 of the 20 rats in the control groups. The vast majority of these pituitary tumors contained prolactin that was demonstrable by the avidin:biotin:peroxidase complex immunocytochemical technique.


This work was supported in part by USPHS Contracts N01-CO-23910 from the National Cancer Institute to Program Resources, Inc., and N01-CO-23912 to Information Management Services, Inc.

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