Studies of early hepatocellular proliferation and peroxisomal proliferation in Sprague-Dawley rats treated with tumorigenic doses of clofibrate

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 1992 Sep;116(1):71-7. doi: 10.1016/0041-008x(92)90146-j.


Clofibrate, a peroxisome proliferator, is hepatocarcinogenic in rats in a dose-dependent fashion. While there is a relationship between peroxisome proliferation and rodent liver carcinogenesis, recent evidence also suggests an association between the tumorigenicity of peroxisome proliferators and sustained cell proliferation. To investigate the role of early cell proliferation in clofibrate-induced carcinogenesis and the predictive potential of this endpoint, in a 3-month study, rats were fed clofibrate doses equivalent to those used in the chronic bioassay, and cell proliferation was determined after 1 week and 3 months, using a 1-week continuous bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU)-labeling technique. Adult Sprague-Dawley rats were fed clofibrate at 1500, 4500, or 9000 ppm. Six rats/sex/group were killed after 1 or 13 weeks of treatment. Osmotic minipumps containing BrdU were implanted into rats 7 days prior to necropsy to determine the cumulative 7-day hepatocyte labeling index immunohistochemically. A dose-related increase in hepatocyte labeling index was seen after 1 week of treatment. However, at 13 weeks, sustained increases in hepatocyte proliferation were not seen; but a dose-related decrease in the hepatocyte labeling index was observed. Liver stereology at 13 weeks demonstrated a dose-related increase in liver weight and volume, but a decrease in hepatocyte nuclei per unit volume, a minimal increase or no change in the total number of hepatocyte nuclei per liver, and an absolute decline in the total number of BrdU-labeled hepatocyte nuclei per liver. These data suggest that in rats, clofibrate may influence hepatocarcinogenicity by decreases in normal hepatocyte proliferation over time and this effect may influence the pathogenesis of tumors at time points beyond 13 weeks of treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / administration & dosage
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects
  • Clofibrate / administration & dosage
  • Clofibrate / toxicity*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Male
  • Microbodies / enzymology
  • Microbodies / ultrastructure*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Organ Size / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains


  • Bromodeoxyuridine
  • Clofibrate