National Toxicology Program

National Toxicology Program

Abstract for TR-358 - Ochratoxin A (CASRN 303-47-9)

Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Ochratoxin A (CAS No. 303-47-9) in F344/N Rats (Gavage Studies)

Link to the full study report in PDF. If you have difficulty accessing the document, please send email to the NTP Webmaster [ Send Email ] and identify documents/pages for which access is required.  


Chemical Formula: C20H18ClNO6


Ochratoxin A is a naturally occurring fungal toxin that is a contaminant in corn, peanuts, storage grains, cottonseed, meats, dried fish, and nuts. Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies were conducted by administering ochratoxin A (98% pure) in corn oil by gavage to groups of F344/N rats of each sex for 16 days, 13 weeks, 9 months, 15 months, or 2 years. Only rats were studied because ochratoxin A has been shown to be carcinogenic in mice. Genetic toxicology tests were performed with bacterial and mammalian cells. Urinalysis, hematologic and serum chemical analyses, and bone marrow cellularity determinations were conducted at 9, 15, and 24 months in the 2-year studies.

Sixteen-Day and Thirteen-Week Studies:

Rats were administered 0, 1, 4, or 16 mg/kg ochratoxin A in corn oil by gavage 5 days per week for a total of 12 doses over 16 days. All rats that received 16 mg/kg ochratoxin A died within 6 days. Rats that received 4 mg/kg lost weight. Compound-related lesions in rats included bone marrow hyperplasia, thymic atrophy, necrosis and hyperplasia of the forestomach epithelium, renal tubular cell degenerative and regenerative changes (nephropathy), and adrenal gland hemorrhage. Renal tubular changes were most severe in animals that received 4 mg/kg. Rats that received 16 mg/kg had less severe renal lesions than those at 4 mg/kg, perhaps because the acute toxicity and early death did not allow sufficient time for full development of lesions.

No compound-related deaths occurred in the 13-week studies (doses were 0 and 0.0625 to 1 mg/kg). The final mean body weight of rats that received 0.25, 0.5, or 1 mg/kg was 7%, 11%, or 19% lower than that of vehicle controls for males and 3%, 4%, or 9% lower for females. Compound-related lesions in the kidney were characterized as degeneration and regeneration of the epithelium of the proximal convoluted tubules with individual cell necrosis of moderate severity (see page 3 of the Technical Report).

Karyomegaly of tubular epithelial cells was widespread but most pronounced in the straight portion of the tubules just above the corticomedullary junction. Karyomegaly was present in all dosed groups, and the severity increased as the dose increased. At lower doses, atrophy of the straight portions of the tubules at the corticomedullary junction and in the medulla was observed.

Based on mortality and on the presence and severity of renal lesions, groups of 80 rats per sex and dose group were administered 0, 21, 70, or 210 ug/kg ochratoxin A in corn oil by gavage 5 days per week for up to 2 years. Groups of 15 rats per sex and dose were killed at 9 or at 15 months and the remaining animals at 2 years.

Nine-Month and Fifteen-Month Studies:

Administration of ochratoxin A by gavage for 9 months or 15 months to F344/N rats was associated with increased incidences of renal tubular cell neoplasms in males and hyperplasia, degeneration, and karyomegaly of renal tubular epithelial cells in both males and females (see page 4 of the Technical Report).

Body Weight and Survival in the Two-Year Studies:

Mean body weights of high dose rats were generally 4%-7% lower than those of vehicle controls. No significant differences in survival were observed between any groups of female rats (vehicle control, 32/50; low dose, 23/51; mid dose, 35/50; high dose, 34/50). Survival was decreased after 77 weeks in high dose male rats and after 96 weeks in low and mid dose male rats (39/50; 26/51; 26/51; 23/50).

Clinical Pathology:

Minor differences were observed for hematologic values between dosed and vehicle control animals, but these were not considered to be of biologic significance. Results of serum chemistry analysis were not clearly compound related. Ochratoxin A-dosed animals had slight increases compared with vehicle controls in urine volume and decreases in urine specific gravity in concentration tests, suggesting that exposure resulted in mild to moderate decreases in the ability to concentrate urine.

Nonneoplastic and Neoplastic Effects in the Two-Year Studies:

A spectrum of degenerative and proliferative changes occurred in the kidney of male and female rats given ochratoxin A for 2 years. Degeneration of the renal tubular epithelium with formation of tubular cysts, proliferation of the tubular epithelium, and karyomegaly of the nuclei of tubular epithelial cells occurred at increased incidences in dosed rats (see page 5 of the Technical Report). Hyperplasia of the renal tubular epithelium and renal tubular adenomas and carcinomas also occurred at increased incidences in the dosed rats; the tumors were frequently multiple within a single kidney or were bilateral, and many metastasized to other organs.

The incidence of fibroadenomas of the mammary gland in high dose female rats was significantly greater than that in vehicle controls (vehicle control, 17/50; low dose, 23/51; mid dose, 22/50; high dose, 28/50). Multiple fibroadenomas of the mammary gland were observed at an increased incidence in high dose female rats (4/50; 4/51; 5/50; 14/50). One mammary gland adenoma was seen in a mid dose female, and two mammary gland adenocarcinomas were seen in each dosed group; one adenocarcinoma was seen in the vehicle control group.

An adenoma of the pars intermedia of the pituitary gland was observed in one mid dose female rat, and a carcinoma was observed in a second mid dose female rat. Squamous cell papillomas of the tongue were seen in two low dose and two mid dose male rats. Neither the pituitary neoplasms nor the papillomas of the tongue were considered related to ochratoxin A exposure.

Genetic Toxicology:

Ochratoxin A was not mutagenic in four strains of Salmonella typhimurium (TA97, TA98, TA100, or TA1535) when tested both with and without exogenous metabolic activation. In cultured Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells, ochratoxin A induced sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) in the presence, but not the absence, of metabolic activation; it did not significantly increase the number of chromosomal aberrations in these cells.


The data, documents, and pathology materials from the 2-year studies of ochratoxin A have been audited. 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 gavage studies, there was clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of ochratoxin A for male F344/N rats as shown by substantially increased incidences of uncommon tubular cell adenomas and of tubular cell carcinomas of the kidney. There was clear evidence of carcinogenic activity for female F344/N rats shown by increased incidences of uncommon tubular cell adenomas and of tubular cell carcinomas of the kidney and by increased incidences and multiplicity of fibroadenomas of the mammary gland.

Ochratoxin A administration also caused nonneoplastic renal changes including tubular cell hyperplasia, tubular cell proliferation, cytoplasmic alteration, karyomegaly, and degeneration of the renal tubular epithelium.

Synonym: (R)-N-[(5-chloro-3,4-dihydro-8-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-oxo-1H-2-enzopyran-7-yl)-carbonyl](-L-)phenylalanine

Report Date: May 1989

Pathology Tables, Survival and Growth Curves from NTP 2-year Studies

Target Organs & Incidences from 2-year Studies

Return to Long Term Abstracts

NTP is located at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.