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Abstract for TR-337

Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Nitrofurazone in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Feed Studies)

CASRN: 59-87-0
Chemical Formula: C6H6N4O4
Molecular Weight: 198.1
Synonyms/Common Names: 5-Nitro-2-furaldehyde semicarbazone; 2-[(5-nitro-2-furanyl)methylene]hydrazine carboximide; aldomycin; amifur; chemfuran; coxistat; furacin; furacinetten; furaplast; furazol w; furesol; furracoccid; mammex; nefco; nifuzon; nitrofural; vabrocid
Report Date: June 1988



Nitrofurazone is a synthetic furan derivative, active against a broad spectrum of bacteria, which has been widely used in veterinary and human medicine. Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies were conducted by feeding diets containing nitrofurazone (99% pure) to groups of F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice of each sex for 14 days, 13 weeks, or 2 years.

Fourteen-day and thirteen-week studies

Groups of five males and five females of each species were fed diets containing 0, 630, 1,250, 2,500, 5,000, or 10,000 ppm for 14 consecutive days. Early deaths occurred in all groups of rats receiving 5,000 or 10,000 ppm nitrofurazone. The surviving rats in the lower two dose groups gained weight, but weight gain was decreased as the dose of nitrofurazone was increased. Feed consumption by rats of each sex was decreased at all doses above 630 ppm. In all dosed groups, clinical signs of toxicity included rough hair coats and lethargy. At doses of 2,500 ppm and above, rats of each sex exhibited intermittent episodes of seizures and lethargy.

All mice that received 2,500, 5,000, or 10,000 ppm nitrofurazone and 3/5 males that received 1,250 ppm died before the end of the 14-day studies; the surviving dosed mice (except females at 630 ppm) lost weight. A dose-related decrease in feed consumption was observed at all doses above 630 ppm. Clinical signs included rough hair coats and convulsive seizures.

In the 13-week studies, groups of 10 rats of each sex were given diets containing 0, 150, 310, 620, 1,250, or 2,500 ppm nitrofurazone. No deaths were observed and all animals gained weight, but the magnitude of weight gain was dose dependent with decrements in final mean body weight for the highest dose group reaching 55% in males and 36% in females. Other evidence of chemically related toxicity included convulsive seizures, osteoporosis, degenerative arthropathy, and gonadal hypoplasia in both sexes at the two highest doses.

Groups of 10 mice of each sex were given diets containing 0, 70, 150, 310, 620, or 1,250 ppm nitrofurazone for 13 weeks. Early deaths were observed in the two highest dose groups of each sex. The final mean body weights of male and female mice in the 1,250-ppm groups were about 20% lower than those of the controls; weight gains of the other dosed mice were comparable to those of the controls. Stimulus-induced convulsive seizures were observed for all mice in the two highest dose groups. Testicular hypoplasia was observed in the two highest dose groups of male mice.

Two-year studies

Body weight and survival

Dietary concentrations for the 2-year studies were 0, 310, or 620 ppm for rats and 0, 150, or 310 ppm for mice (50 animals per dose group). Mean body weights of high dose male rats were lower than those of the controls after week 39; mean body weights of low dose male rats and of the controls were comparable throughout the study. Final mean body weights of low and high dose female rats were 9% and 21% lower than those of the controls. Dosed rats consumed less feed than did the controls. The average amount of nitrofurazone consumed per day was approximately 11-12 or 24-26 mg/kg by low or high dose male and female rats. The survival of the high dose group of male rats was lower than that of the controls after week 92 (final survival-- male: control, 33/50; low dose, 30/50; high dose, 20/50; female: 28/50; 37/50; 31/50).

Mean body weights of dosed mice were similar to or somewhat greater than those of controls throughout most of the studies. The average daily feed consumption by dosed mice was similar to that of controls. The average amount of nitrofurazone consumed per day was approximately 14-16 or 29-33 mg/kg for low or high dose male and female mice. The survival of the high dose group of male mice was lower than that of the controls after week 88 (final survival-- male: 39/50; 31/50; 27/50; female: 39/50; 40/50; 35/50).

In mice of each sex, nitrofurazone administration induced stimulus-sensitive convulsive seizures beginning at week 4 or 5 for high dose mice and week 24 for low dose female mice. These seizures were observed primarily in the first year of the study.

Nonneoplastic and neoplastic effects

Degenerative changes involving the vertebral and femoro-tibial (knee) joints were observed at increased incidences in dosed rats. The degenerative changes primarily affected the articular cartilage and were similar to those seen in the 13-week studies. Degeneration of the sternal synchondroses was increased in high dose female rats. The osteoporosis seen in the 13-week studies was not observed in the 2-year studies. Testicular degeneration, characterized by atrophy of the germinal epithelium and aspermatogenesis, was observed at increased incidences in dosed male rats (control, 12/50; low dose, 49/50; high dose, 47/50).

Adenomas of the sebaceous glands and trichoepitheliomas or sebaceous adenomas (combined) of the skin were observed in high dose male rats (0/50; 0/50; 5/50). Carcinomas of the preputial gland were increased in dosed male rats (1/50; 8/50; 5/50). The incidences of preputial gland adenomas or carcinomas (combined) in dosed male rats were not statistically greater than that in the controls (9/50; 16/50; 7/50). However, in the low dose group, the incidence is greater than the highest incidence observed in historical untreated control groups (9/50). In addition, hyperplasia of the preputial gland was observed in six low dose male rats in which neither adenomas nor carcinomas occurred. The incidence of mesotheliomas of the tunica vaginalis in low dose male rats was greater than that in the controls (0/50; 7/50; 2/50).

Fibroadenomas of the mammary gland occurred at markedly increased incidences in dosed female rats (8/49; 36/50; 36/50). Three adenocarcinomas were also observed (1/49; 0/50; 2/50).

Ovarian atrophy (7/47; 44/50; 38/50) and tubular cell hyperplasia of the ovary (1/47; 23/50; 21/50) were observed at markedly increased incidences in dosed female mice. The incidences of benign mixed tumors (0/47; 17/50; 20/50), granulosa cell tumors (1/47; 4/50; 9/50), and granulosa cell tumors or luteomas (combined) (3/47; 6/50; 9/50) of the ovary were increased in exposed female mice.

Mononuclear cell leukemia in rats occurred with negative trends (male: 21/50; 23/50; 6/50; female: 15/49; 2/50; 2/50). In female mice, the incidences of adenomas or carcinomas (combined) of the anterior pituitary gland occurred with a negative trend (10/50; 7/50; 2/49). The incidences of testicular interstitial cell tumors were decreased in dosed male rats (45/50; 30/50; 28/50).

Genetic toxicity

Nitrofurazone was mutagenic in Salmonella typhimurium strains TA98 and TA100 both with and without exogenous metabolic activation. The responses in strains TA1535 and TA1537 were more varied: nitrofurazone was mutagenic in strain TA1535 only in the presence of S9 and produced no consistent increase in gene reversions in strain TA1537 with or without S9. In the absence of metabolic activation, nitrofurazone induced forward mutations at the TK+/- locus of mouse L5178Y lymphoma cells; the chemical was not tested with S9. Treatment of cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells with nitrofurazone in the absence of S9 produced a dose-related increase in sister chromatid exchanges and chromosomal aberrations; with S9, sister chromatid exchanges were increased, but no induction of chromosomal aberrations was observed.

Data audit

The data, documents, and pathology materials from the 2-year studies of nitrofurazone were audited at the NTP Archives. The audit findings show that the conduct of the studies is documented adequately and support the data and results given in this Technical Report.


Under the conditions of these 2-year feed studies, there was equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity of nitrofurazone for male F344/N rats as shown by the occurrence of sebaceous gland adenomas and trichoepitheliomas of the skin, mesotheliomas of the tunica vaginalis, and preputial gland tumors. There was clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of nitrofurazone for female F344/N rats as shown by a markedly increased incidence of fibroadenomas of the mammary gland. There was no evidence of carcinogenic activity for male B6C3F1 mice fed diets containing nitrofurazone at concentrations of 150 or 310 ppm. There was clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of nitrofurazone for female B6C3F1 mice as shown by increased incidences of benign mixed tumors and granulosa cell tumors of the ovary.

Administration of nitrofurazone was associated with decreased incidences of mononuclear cell leukemia in male and female rats, testicular interstitial cell tumors in male rats, and pituitary gland neoplasms in female mice. Convulsive seizures in mice of each sex, ovarian atrophy in female mice, testicular degeneration in rats, and degeneration of articular cartilage in rats were all associated with the administration of nitrofurazone.