Two-stage 3-methylcholanthrene and butylated hydroxytoluene-induced lung carcinogenesis in mice

Methods Cell Biol. 2021:163:153-173. doi: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2020.07.003. Epub 2020 Aug 24.


Lung cancer is one of the deadliest types of cancer and as such requires disease models that are useful for identification of novel pathways for biomarkers as well as to test therapeutic agents. Adenocarcinoma (ADC), the most prevalent type of lung cancer, is a subtype of non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) and a disease driven mainly by smoking. However, it is also the most common subtype of lung cancer found in non-smokers with environmental exposures. Chemically driven models of lung cancer, also called primary models of lung cancer, are important because they do not overexpress or delete oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes, respectively, to increase oncogenesis. Instead these models test tumor development without forcing a specific pathway (i.e., Kras). The primary focus of this chapter is to discuss a well-established 2-stage mouse model of lung adenocarcinomas. The initiator (3-methylcholanthrene, MCA) does not elicit many, if any, tumors if not followed by exposure to the tumor promoter (butylated hydroxytoluene, BHT). In sensitive strains, such as A/J, FVB, and BALB, significantly greater numbers of tumors develop following the MCA/BHT protocol compared to MCA alone. BHT does not elicit tumors on its own; it is a non-genotoxic carcinogen and promoter. In these sensitive strains, promotion is also associated with inflammation characterized by infiltrating macrophages, lymphocytes, and neutrophils, and other inflammatory cell types in addition to increases in total protein content reflective of lung hyperpermeability. This 2-stage model is a useful tool to identify unique promotion specific events to then test in future intervention studies.

Keywords: 2-Stage carcinogenesis; 3-Methylcholanthrene; Butylated hydroxytoluene; Carcinogen-induced; Inflammation; Initiation; Lung; Lung adenocarcinoma; Mouse; Tumor promotion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene* / toxicity
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Lung
  • Methylcholanthrene* / toxicity
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C


  • Butylated Hydroxytoluene
  • Methylcholanthrene