Procarbazine-induced specific-locus mutations in male mice

Mutat Res. 1979 Feb;59(2):245-56. doi: 10.1016/0027-5107(79)90163-5.


Procarbazine is used in drug-combination treatment of Hodgkin's disease. The specific locus method was used to test and confirm the ability of procarbazine to induce gene mutations in pre- and post-meiotic germ cells of male mice. The lowest dose of procarbazine that significantly increased the mutation frequency in As spermatogonia over the control frequency was 400 mg/kg (P = 0.003). The corresponding dose for the post-spermatogonial germ-cell stages was 600 mg/kg (P = 0.009). The dose--response was linear for the point estimates of the mutation frequencies after treatment of As spermatogonia with 0, 200, 400 and 600 mg/kg. The point estimate of the mutation frequency at the 800 mg/kg level was one-third of that expected from a linear extrapolation. Variation in mutation rates among the 7 loci between the lowest (a locus) and the highest (p locus) was 12-fold. Only 24% of procarbazine-induced specific locus mutations in As spermatogonia were lethal in the homozygous condition. From the mutation spectra and the viability tests, it is concluded that procarbazine-induced mutations may be mainly due to base-pair changes. Procarbazine-induced specific-locus mutations fulfilled the criteria for the estimation of the doubling dose, the dose necessary to induce as many mutations as occur spontaneously. The doubling dose of procarbazine in As spermatogonia of mice was 114 mg/kg. The therapeutic dose for procarbazine is about 215 mg/kg. If man and mouse were equally sensitive, this dose would induce 1.9 times as many mutations as arise spontaneously. From the incidence of patients with Hodgkin's disease (1 : 42 000) the calculated population dose of procarbazine is 5.12 micrograms/kg. Assuming equal sensitivity between the sexes we can calculate, for an estimated number of 30 000 genes, the induction of about 22 mutations per million children due to procarbazine treatment. The same number of induced mutations can be calculated if the risk of patients is used for the estimation of the genetic hazard.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genes
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutagens
  • Mutation*
  • Procarbazine / pharmacology*
  • Spermatogonia / drug effects*
  • Spermatozoa / drug effects*


  • Mutagens
  • Procarbazine