A comprehensive view on mechanistic approaches for cancer risk assessment of non-genotoxic agrochemicals

Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2020 Dec:118:104789. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2020.104789. Epub 2020 Oct 7.


Currently the only methods for non-genotoxic carcinogenic hazard assessment accepted by most regulatory authorities are lifetime carcinogenicity studies. However, these involve the use of large numbers of animals and the relevance of their predictive power and results has been scientifically challenged. With increased availability of innovative test methods and enhanced understanding of carcinogenic processes, it is believed that tumour formation can now be better predicted using mechanistic information. A workshop organised by the European Partnership on Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing brought together experts to discuss an alternative, mechanism-based approach for cancer risk assessment of agrochemicals. Data from a toolbox of test methods for detecting modes of action (MOAs) underlying non-genotoxic carcinogenicity are combined with information from subchronic toxicity studies in a weight-of-evidence approach to identify carcinogenic potential of a test substance. The workshop included interactive sessions to discuss the approach using case studies. These showed that fine-tuning is needed, to build confidence in the proposed approach, to ensure scientific correctness, and to address different regulatory needs. This novel approach was considered realistic, and its regulatory acceptance and implementation can be facilitated in the coming years through continued dialogue between all stakeholders and building confidence in alternative approaches.

Keywords: 3Rs; Alternative approaches to animal testing; Carcinogenicity; Human health risk assessment; Mode of action; NAMs; New approach methodologies; Non-genotoxic carcinogens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Agrochemicals / adverse effects*
  • Animal Testing Alternatives*
  • Animals
  • Carcinogenicity Tests*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemically induced*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Humans
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Toxicity Tests, Subchronic
  • Toxicokinetics


  • Agrochemicals