14-Week toxicity and cell proliferation of methyleugenol administered by gavage to F344 rats and B6C3F1 mice

Food Chem Toxicol. 2001 Apr;39(4):303-16. doi: 10.1016/s0278-6915(00)00143-5.


Methyleugenol, a food flavor and fragrance agent, was tested for toxicity in male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice. Groups of 10 males and 10 females per sex per species were administered 0, 10, 30, 100, 300 or 1000 mg methyleugenol/kg body weight in 0.5% aqueous methylcellulose by gavage, 5 days per week for 14 weeks. Additional groups of rats and mice of each sex were dosed similarly and used for hematology and clinical chemistry studies. Groups of 10 male and 10 female rats and mice received the vehicle by gavage on the same dosing schedule and served as vehicle controls. For serum gastrin, gastric pH and cell proliferation studies groups of 10 female rats were given 0, 37, 75 or 150 mg/kg, once daily 5 days per week for 30 or 90 days or 300 or 1000 mg/kg for 30 days; male mice were given 0, 9, 18.5, 37, 75, 150 or 300 mg/kg for 30 or 90 days. For the gastrin, pH and cell proliferation studies, groups of 10 female rats and 10 male mice were given the vehicle for 30 or 90 days and served as controls. Methyleugenol administration to rats induced erythrocyte microcytosis and thrombocytosis in male and female rats. It also caused an increase in serum alanine aminotransferase and sorbitol dehydrogenase activities and bile acid concentration, suggesting hepatocellular injury, cholestasis or altered hepatic function. Additionally, methyleugenol induced hypoproteinemia and hypoalbuminemia, evidenced by decreased total protein and albumin concentrations in both male and female rats, suggesting in inefficiency of dietary protein utilization due to methyleugenol-induced toxic effects on the liver and glandular stomach of rats and mice. The increase in gastrin and gastric pH of rats and mice given methyleugenol suggests that gastrin feedback was impaired and resulted in conditions not conducive to protein digestion. In rats, methyleugenol caused an increase in the incidences of hepatocyte cytologic alteration, cytomegaly, Kupffer cell pigmentation, mixed foci of cellular alteration and bile duct hyperplasia of the liver and atrophy and chronic inflammation of the mucosa of the glandular stomach. In mice, it caused an increase in the incidence of cytologic alteration, necrosis, bile duct hyperplasia and subacute inflammation of the liver and atrophy, degeneration, necrosis, edema, mitotic alteration, and cystic glands of the fundic region of the glandular stomach. The increased incidences of adrenal gland cortical hypertrophy and/or cytoplasmic alteration in the submandibular salivary glands, adrenal glands, testis and uterus of rats were considered secondary to the chemical-related effects observed in the liver and glandular stomach. Based on mortality, body weight gain, clinical chemistry and gross and microscopic evaluation of tissues of rats and mice, the no-observed-effect level (NOEL) of methyleugenol for both species was estimated at 10 mg/kg.

MeSH terms

  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cytotoxicity Tests, Immunologic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Erythrocytes
  • Eugenol / analogs & derivatives
  • Eugenol / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Gastric Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism
  • Gastric Mucosa / pathology
  • Gastrins / blood
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutagens / toxicity*
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Organ Specificity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Thrombocytosis


  • Gastrins
  • Mutagens
  • methyleugenol
  • Eugenol
  • L-Iditol 2-Dehydrogenase
  • Alanine Transaminase