The Copenhagen rat is completely resistant to mammary cancer induction by N-methyl-N-nitrosourea (MNU) when the carcinogen is administered during sexual development, a period when other strains of rats are normally susceptible to mammary gland carcinogenesis. Here we administered 30 mg/kg MNU i.p. to two groups of neonatal (2–3-day-old) Copenhagen rats. One group (group B, 18 animals) received no further treatment, while the other group (group C, 17 animals) received a second dose of 30 mg/kg MNU via the tail vein at 50 days of age. About 30% of the rats in group B and about 70% of those in group C developed mammary carcinomas before they were 1 year of age. About one-half of the tumors in both groups were cribriform adenocarcinomas and one-half were adenosquamous carcinomas. The latter tumor type has not been observed previously in susceptible rat strains. The ability to induce these mammary tumors in the Copenhagen rat suggests that the putative mammary carcinoma suppressor gene is functionally inactive in neonatal animals or is inactivated when these animals are treated with MNU.


Supported by Grant MT-1049 from the Medical Research Council of Canada and by the Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation.

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