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Abstract for TR-355

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

CASRN: 147-24-0
Chemical Formula: C17H21NO · HCl
Molecular Weight: 291.8
Synonyms/Common Names: 2-Diphenylmethoxy-N,N-dimethylethanamine hydrochloride; 2-(benzhydryloxy)-N,N-dimethylethylamine hydrochloride; beta-dimethylaminoethyl benzhydryl ether hydrochloride; benzhydramine hydrochloride
Report Date: September 1989



Diphenhydramine hydrochloride is a widely used antihistaminic drug in human and veterinary medicine. Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies were conducted by feeding diets containing USP-grade diphenhydramine hydrochloride (greater than 99% pure) to groups of F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice of each sex for 14 days, 13 weeks, or 2 years. Genetic toxicology studies were conducted in Salmonella typhimurium, mouse L5178Y cells, and Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells.

Fourteen-day and thirteen-week studies

In the 14-day studies, dietary concentrations ranged from 620 to 10,000 ppm for rats and from 310 to 5,000 ppm for mice. All rats that received diets containing 10,000 ppm and 9/10 rats that received diets containing 5,000 ppm died before the end of the studies. The final mean body weights of rats receiving 1,250 or 2,500 ppm were 12%-13% or 30%-34% lower than those of controls. Feed consumption by rats at the three highest concentrations was more than 30% less than that by controls. All mice receiving 5,000 ppm, 4/5 males and 4/5 females receiving 2,500 ppm, and 4/5 males receiving 1,250 ppm died before the end of the studies. The final mean body weights of mice that received 1,250 or 2,500 ppm were lower than the initial weights. All dosed rats and mice were hyperactive and sensitive to sound and/or touch.

In the 13-week studies, dietary concentrations of diphenhydramine hydrochloride ranged from 156 to 2,500 ppm for rats and from 78 to 1,250 ppm for mice. All rats lived to the end of the studies. The final mean body weights of rats receiving 1,250 or 2,500 ppm were about 15% or 35% lower than those of controls. The final mean body weight of female rats receiving 625 ppm was 9% lower than that of controls. Increased activity was observed for all male and female rats receiving 1,250 and 2,500 ppm. Cytoplasmic vacuolization of the liver, characteristic of fat accumulation, was observed in male and female rats receiving 313-2,500 ppm. The severity of this change increased with increased dose. For mice, 1/10 males receiving 313 ppm, 2/10 males receiving 625 ppm, and 8/10 males receiving 1,250 ppm died before the end of the studies. The final mean body weights of mice that received 625 or 1,250 ppm were about 9% or 16% lower than those of controls. No compound-related histopathological effects were observed in mice.

Based on the mortality and body weight effects of diphenhydramine hydrochloride in the short-term studies, dietary concentrations selected for the 2-year studies were 0,313, and 635 ppm diphenhydramine hydrochloride for male rats and 0, 156, and 313 ppm for female rats and male and female mice.

Two-year studies

Body weight and survival

Mean body weights of dosed and control rats were similar throughout the studies, and mean body weights of dosed mice were 3%-13% lower than those of controls throughout most of the studies. No significant differences in survival were observed between any groups of rats or mice of either sex (male rats: control, 29/50; low dose, 32/50; high dose, 24/50; female rats: 35/50; 32/50; 36/50; male mice: 29/50; 30/50; 24/48; female mice: 37/50; 39/50; 32/50). The estimated average daily feed consumption by dosed rats and dosed mice was similar to that by controls. The average amount of diphenhydramine hydrochloride consumed per day was approximately 13 or 27 mg/kg for low dose or high dose male rats, 7 or 15 mg/kg for low dose or high dose female rats, and 21 or 46-47 mg/kg for low dose or high dose male and female mice.

Nonneoplastic and neoplastic effects

For three high dose male rats, astrocytomas were found in brain sections taken by routine sampling procedures. Gliomas, containing neoplastic astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, were found in one control and one additional high dose male rat. The incidence of glial cell tumors in high dose male rats (4/50) exceeded the highest incidence in historical controls in the Program (2/50). The historical incidence of glial cell tumors is less than 0.7% in approximately 2,000 untreated control male F344/N rats. Three additional sections of brain were prepared from the residual fixed tissues of each male and female rat. One additional astrocytoma in a high dose male rat and one astrocytoma in a high dose female rat were observed in these sections.

Adenomas of the anterior pituitary gland in female rats occurred with a significant positive trend; the incidences in low dose male and high dose female rats were marginally greater than those in controls (male: control, 11/49; low dose, 21/50; high dose, 14/49; female: 23/50; 26/50; 35/50).

The incidence of alveolar/bronchiolar adenomas in low dose male rats was slightly greater than that in controls (0/49; 5/50; 3/50). The incidences of alveolar/bronchiolar adenomas or carcinomas (combined) in dosed male rats were not significantly different from that in controls (1/49; 6/50; 5/50) but exceeded the highest incidence in historicalcontrols (4/49). The historical incidence of alveolar/bronchiolar neoplasms in untreated control male F344/N rats is approximately 2.2%. Adenomatous hyperplasia of the lung was not increased in incidence in dosed male rats compared with controls.

The incidences of granulomas of the liver were increased in dosed rats (male: 0/49; 3/50; 4/50; female: 8/50; 15/49; 18/50).

At no site were the incidences of neoplastic lesions in dosed mice considered to be compound related. Cytoplasmic vacuolization (fatty metamorphosis) of the liver was observed at an increased incidence in high dose female mice (0/49; 1/49; 8/49).

Genetic toxicology

Diphenhydramine hydrochloride was not mutagenic in S. typhimurium strains TA98, TA100, TA1535, or TA1537 when tested in either the presence or absence of exogenous metabolic activation. Exposure to this chemical did not induce trifluorothymidine (Tft) resistance in mouse L5178Y lymphoma cells with or without metabolic activation. In cytogenetic tests with cultured CHO cells, diphenhydramine hydrochloride induced chromosomal aberrations in the absence, but not the presence, of exogenous metabolic activation (S9); no induction of sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) was observed in these cells with or without S9.


Under the conditions of these 2-year feed studies, there was equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity of diphenhydramine hydrochloride for male F344/N rats, based on marginally increased incidences of uncommon brain neoplasms (astrocytomas or gliomas) and of alveolar/bronchiolar neoplasms. There was equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity for female F344/N rats, based on a marginal increase in the incidence of pituitary gland adenomas. There was no evidence of carcinogenic activity for male or female B6C3F1 mice fed diets containing 156 or 313 ppm diphenhydramine hydrochloride.