Editor's Highlight: Comparative Dose-Response Analysis of Liver and Kidney Transcriptomic Effects of Trichloroethylene and Tetrachloroethylene in B6C3F1 Mouse

Toxicol Sci. 2017 Nov 1;160(1):95-110. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfx165.


Trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE) are ubiquitous environmental contaminants and occupational health hazards. Recent health assessments of these agents identified several critical data gaps, including lack of comparative analysis of their effects. This study examined liver and kidney effects of TCE and PCE in a dose-response study design. Equimolar doses of TCE (24, 80, 240, and 800 mg/kg) or PCE (30, 100, 300, and 1000 mg/kg) were administered by gavage in aqueous vehicle to male B6C3F1/J mice. Tissues were collected 24 h after exposure. Trichloroacetic acid (TCA), a major oxidative metabolite of both compounds, was measured and RNA sequencing was performed. PCE had a stronger effect on liver and kidney transcriptomes, as well as greater concentrations of TCA. Most dose-responsive pathways were common among chemicals/tissues, with the strongest effect on peroxisomal β-oxidation. Effects on liver and kidney mitochondria-related pathways were notably unique to PCE. We performed dose-response modeling of the transcriptomic data and compared the resulting points of departure (PODs) to those for apical endpoints derived from long-term studies with these chemicals in rats, mice, and humans, converting to human equivalent doses using tissue-specific dosimetry models. Tissue-specific acute transcriptional effects of TCE and PCE occurred at human equivalent doses comparable to those for apical effects. These data are relevant for human health assessments of TCE and PCE as they provide data for dose-response analysis of the toxicity mechanisms. Additionally, they provide further evidence that transcriptomic data can be useful surrogates for in vivo PODs, especially when toxicokinetic differences are taken into account.

Keywords: agents; dose-response; kidney; liver; methods; risk assessment; systems toxicology; toxicogenomics; volatile organic compounds.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Tetrachloroethylene / toxicity*
  • Transcriptome*
  • Trichloroethylene / toxicity*


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Trichloroethylene
  • Tetrachloroethylene