The tobacco-specific N-nitrosamines 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone (NNK) and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanol (NNAL), as well as the Areca-derived N-nitrosoguvacoline (NG) were assayed for carcinogenicity in male F344 rats by lifetime administration in the drinking water. Groups of 30 to 80 rats were treated with 0.5 ppm, 1.0 ppm, or 5.0 ppm of NNK; 5.0 ppm of NNAL, 20 ppm of NG, a mixture of 20 ppm of NG and 1 ppm of NNK, and water only in the control group. The approximate total doses of the nitrosamines (mmol/kg of body weight) in these groups were: NNK, 0.073, 0.17, and 0.68; NNAL, 0.69; NG, 4.1; NG and NNK, 4.1 and 0.17. As in previous assays in which NNK was tested by s.c. injection, the lung was its principle target organ. Lung tumor incidences in the 0.5-, 1.0-, and 5.0-ppm groups were nine of 80, 20 of 80, and 27 of 30 compared to six of 80 in the control rats. This trend was significant, P < 0.005. Significant incidences of nasal cavity and liver tumors were observed only in the rats treated with 5.0 ppm of NNK. In contrast to the results of the s.c. bioassays of NNK, tumors of the exocrine pancreas were observed in five of 80 and nine of 80 rats treated with 0.5 and 1.0 ppm. This trend was significant, P < 0.025. This is the first example of pancreatic tumor induction by a constituent of tobacco smoke. It is also the first finding of duct-like carcinomas in the rat pancreas, including one tumor containing epidermoid, keratin-generating tissue. NNAL, the major metabolite of NNK, induced lung tumors in 26 of 30 rats and pancreatic tumors in eight of 30 rats. It appears to be the proximate pancreatic carcinogen of NNK. NG induced pancreatic tumors in four of 30 rats, P < 0.05. This finding requires confirmation. The mixture of NG and NNK induced lung tumors in eleven of 30 rats. There were no apparent synergistic interactions of NG and NNK. The observation of benign and malignant tumors of the lung and pancreas of rats treated with the tobacco-specific nitrosamines NNK and NNAL is discussed in respect to the causal association between cigarette smoking and cancer of the lung and pancreas.


Dedicated to Professor Dr. Rudolf Preussmann on the occasion of his 60th birthday.


This study was supported by Grant CA-29580 from the National Cancer Institute. This is No. 42 in the series “A Study of Tobacco Carcinogenesis.”

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