Formaldehyde mechanistic data and risk assessment: endogenous protection from DNA adduct formation

Pharmacol Ther. 1996;71(1-2):29-55. doi: 10.1016/0163-7258(96)00061-7.


Exposures of rodents to airborne formaldehyde (FA) produce dose-related toxicity, enhanced cell proliferation and squamous cell carcinomas in the nasal passages. The mechanism of FA-induced tumor formation involves DNA-protein crosslink formation and enhanced cell proliferation secondarily to cytotoxicity. The mucociliary apparatus and glutathione protect against low-dose FA-induced effects. Consequently, the mechanistic information is consistent with a very sublinear dose-response curve for tumor formation. The sublinear dose-response of nasal DNA-protein crosslinks levels in rodents and monkeys has been used in the risk assessment of FA.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenicity Tests
  • Carcinogens / metabolism
  • Carcinogens / pharmacokinetics
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Cricetinae
  • DNA / drug effects
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Adducts / biosynthesis*
  • Formaldehyde / metabolism
  • Formaldehyde / pharmacokinetics
  • Formaldehyde / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Rats
  • Risk Assessment


  • Carcinogens
  • DNA Adducts
  • Formaldehyde
  • DNA