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Review
. 1992 Jun;6(9):2698-706.
doi: 10.1096/fasebj.6.9.1612294.

Does Chemically Induced Hepatocyte Proliferation Predict Liver Carcinogenesis?

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Review

Does Chemically Induced Hepatocyte Proliferation Predict Liver Carcinogenesis?

R L Melnick. FASEB J. .

Abstract

Cell proliferation has long been recognized as having an important role in chemically induced carcinogenesis. Based on findings that certain nongenotoxic chemical carcinogens induced cell proliferation in the same organ that had an increased incidence of tumors, it has been hypothesized that a chemically induced response of enhanced DNA synthesis and cellular division causes cancer by increasing the rate of spontaneous mutations. It was further suggested that there would be no increased human risk of cancer by non-DNA-reactive compounds at doses that do not cause a proliferative response. An evaluation of the literature on the relationship between chemically induced cell proliferation and liver carcinogenesis reveals that very few systematic cell proliferation studies have been conducted over periods of extended exposure, and in many cases the exposure concentrations were not similar to those used in the cancer studies. The proliferative response resulting from exposure to many nongenotoxic carcinogens is not well sustained, whereas the carcinogenic response by these chemicals often requires prolonged exposure. The available literature leads to the conclusion that quantitative correspondences between cellular proliferation and carcinogenic responses have not been demonstrated and do not support the hypothesis that chemically induced cell proliferation is the primary mechanism by which nongenotoxic chemicals cause liver cancer. Studies of liver carcinogenesis in two-stage models point out the need to better understand chemical effects on cell loss as well as on cell replication, and demonstrate that measurements of cell proliferation alone are not sufficient to elucidate mechanisms of tumor development.

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