Further analysis of Ames-negative rodent carcinogens that are only genotoxic in mammalian cells in vitro at concentrations exceeding 1 mM, including retesting of compounds of concern

Mutagenesis. 2010 Nov;25(6):539-53. doi: 10.1093/mutage/geq041. Epub 2010 Aug 18.


In the analysis by Parry et al. [Parry, J. M., Parry, E., Phrakonkham, P. and Corvi, R. (2010) Analysis of published data for top concentration considerations in mammalian cell genotoxicity testing. Mutagenesis, 25, 531-538], 24 rodent carcinogens that were negative in the Ames test were identified that were only positive in mammalian cell tests at concentrations between 1 and 10 mM. These carcinogens can be subdivided into four groups as follows: (1) probable non-genotoxic (non-mutagenic) carcinogens, tumour promoters or negative for genotoxicity in vivo (n=10); (2) questionable carcinogens (n=4); (3) carcinogens with a probable genotoxic mode of action (n=5); (4) compounds where carcinogenicity or in vivo genotoxicity is unknown or unclear (n=5). It is not expected that in vitro mammalian cell tests should give positive results with Group 1 chemicals. Within Groups 2-4, five chemicals were considered a low priority because they could be detected using modified conditions because genotoxicity was associated with precipitate or pH shifts or because non-standard metabolism was required. The remaining nine chemicals were therefore considered most critical in terms of detection of genotoxic activity in mammalian cells. Daminozide was also included because it may have given positive responses between 1 and 10 mM. Many of the reported studies could have given positive results only at >1 mM because 'old' protocols were followed. These 10 chemicals have therefore been retested using modern protocols. Some were negative even up to 10 mM. Others were positive at concentrations <1 mM. Only methylolacrylamide was positive at a concentration >1 mM (2 mM = 202 μg/ml). Low-molecular weight substances may therefore require concentrations >1 mM, but further work is needed. Based on this analysis, it is concluded that the 10 mM upper limit in mammalian cell tests can be lowered without any loss of sensitivity in detecting genotoxic rodent carcinogens. A new limit of 1 mM or 500 μg/ml, whichever is the higher, is proposed.

Publication types

  • Comment
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenicity Tests / methods
  • Carcinogens / analysis*
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / standards
  • Eukaryotic Cells / drug effects*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mammals*
  • Mice
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Rats
  • Rodentia*
  • Validation Studies as Topic


  • Carcinogens