Chloral hydrate is used medically as a sedative or hypnotic and as a rubefacient in topical preparations, and it is often given to children as a sedative during dental and other medical procedures. Chloral hydrate is used as a central nervous system depressant and sedative in veterinary medicine and as a general anesthetic in cattle and horses. It is a byproduct of the chlorination of water and has been detected in plant effluent after the bleaching of softwood pulp. Chloral, the anhydrous form of chloral hydrate, is used as a synthetic intermediate in the production of insecticides and herbicides. Chloral hydrate was nominated for study by the Food and Drug Administration based upon widespread human exposure and its potential hepatotoxicity and the toxicity of related chemicals. A dietary control component was incorporated in response to concerns within the regulatory community relating to increased background neoplasm incidences in rodent strains used for toxicity testing and to the proposed use of dietary restriction to control background neoplasm incidence in rodent cancer studies. Male B6C3F1 mice (ad libitum-fed or dietary-controlled) received chloral hydrate (99% pure) by gavage for 2 years.
Two-year study in male mice
Groups of 120 male mice received chloral hydrate in distilled water by gavage at doses of 0, 25, 50, or 100 mg/kg 5 days per week for 104 to 105 weeks. Each dose group was divided into two dietary groups of 60 mice. The ad libitum-fed mice had free access to feed, and the dietary-controlled mice received feed in measured daily amounts calculated to maintain body weight on a previously computed idealized body weight curve. Twelve mice from each diet and dose group were evaluated at 15 months.
Survival, feed consumption, and body weights
Survival of dosed groups of ad libitum-fed and dietary-controlled mice was similar to that of the corresponding vehicle controls. When compared to the ad libitum-fed groups, dietary control significantly increased survival in the vehicle controls and 25 and 50 mg/kg groups. Mean body weights of all dosed groups were similar to those of the vehicle control groups throughout the study. The dietary-controlled mice were successfully maintained at or near their target idealized body weights. There was less individual variation in body weights in the dietary-controlled groups than in the corresponding ad libitum-fed groups. Feed consumption by 25 and 50 mg/kg ad libitum-fed mice was generally similar to that by the vehicle controls throughout the study. Feed consumption by 100 mg/kg ad libitum-fed mice was slightly less than that by the vehicle controls throughout the study.
Hepatic enzyme analysis
Chloral hydrate did not significantly induce either lauric acid 4-hydroxylase activity or CYP4A immunoreactive protein in any of the dosed groups of ad libitum-fed mice. However, 100 mg/kg did significantly induce both lauric acid 4-hydroxylase activity and CYP4A immunoreactive protein in the dietary-controlled mice. Moreover, the induction response profile of CYP4A was similar to the increase in the incidence of liver neoplasms at 2 years in the dietary-controlled mice with the major effect occurring in the 100 mg/kg group.
The serum enzymes alanine aminotransferase, amylase, aspartate aminotransferase, and lactate dehydrogenase were also assayed at 2 years. In the ad libitum-fed groups there was a significant increase in aspartate aminotransferase activity in the 50 mg/kg group. There were no other significant effects in any dosed group, but in general the dietary-controlled groups exhibited lower values than the corresponding ad libitum-fed groups.
Organ weights and pathology findings
The heart weight of ad libitum-fed male mice administered 100 mg/kg and the kidney weights of 50 and 100 mg/kg ad libitum-fed mice were significantly less than those of the vehicle controls at 2 years. The liver weights of all dosed groups of ad libitum-fed and dietary-controlled mice were greater than those of the vehicle control groups at 2 years, but the increases were not statistically significant.
The incidence of hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma (combined) in ad libitum-fed mice administered 25 mg/kg was significantly greater than that in the vehicle controls at 2 years. The incidences of hepatocellular carcinoma and of hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma (combined) occurred with positive trends in dietary-controlled male mice at 2 years, and the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma in 100 mg/kg dietary-controlled mice was significantly increased.
Under the conditions used in this 2-year gavage study, there was some evidence of carcinogenic activity of chloral hydrate in male B6C3F1 mice based on increased incidences of hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma (combined) in ad libitum-fed mice and on increased incidences of hepatocellular carcinoma in dietary-controlled mice. In the dietary-controlled mice, induction of enzymes associated with peroxisome proliferation was observed at higher doses.