Response of rat lung to inhaled tobacco smoke with or without prior exposure to 3,4-benzpyrene (BP) given by intratracheal instillation

Br J Cancer. 1975 Apr;31(4):469-84. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1975.87.


SPF rats were exposed to the smoke from 10 cigarettes per week from the age of 10 weeks until they died. Survival, body weight, tumour incidence and histopathological appearances of the lungs were compared with those for untreated sham exposed rats. Two further groups were given a single dose of 3,4-benzyprene (BP) by intratracheal instillation. One of these was then exposed to the smoke of 10 cigarettes per week till death. Compared with untreated or sham exposed rats, exposure to smoke was associated with a significant reduction in incidence of mammary tumours. Exposure to smoke was associated with an increasing incidence of collections of macrophages laden with golden-brown pigment (GBM) and of areas of cuboidal or columnar metaplasia (CCM) or squamous metaplasia (Sq.M) of alveolar epithelium. In control rats there was virtually no GBM, a low incidence of CCM and Sq.M. Four out of 406 smoke exposed rats which came to post mortem had squamous neoplasms in the lungs, 3 having lesions of doubtful malignancy and one having a squamous carcinoma. In contrast, no squamous neoplasms were seen in 197 control rats. This difference was not statistically significant. The findings in rats given a single dose of BP were, in all the above respects, similar to those in untreated rats, except that one developed a squamous carcinoma of the lung. The effects of a single dose of BP followed by smoke exposure were in general similar to those of smoke exposure only. Three rats on this treatment regimen developed squamous cancers of the lung. None of the treatments increased the incidence of adenomata of the lungs. The results are discussed in relation to other studies of the effects of smoke exposure on rats and other species.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / chemically induced
  • Animals
  • Benzopyrenes / administration & dosage
  • Benzopyrenes / pharmacology*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / chemically induced*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Female
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Lung Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Macrophages / ultrastructure
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / epidemiology
  • Metaplasia / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Rats
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / chemically induced
  • Smoking*


  • Benzopyrenes