National Toxicology Program

National Toxicology Program
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Abstract for TR-475 - Tetrahydrofuran (CASRN 109-99-9)

Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Tetrahydrofuran (CAS No. 109-99-9) in F344/N Rats and B6C3F1 Mice (Inhalation Studies)

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Chemical Formula: C4H8O

Tetrahydrofuran is used as a reaction medium for Grignard and metal hydride reactions; in the synthesis of butyrolactone, succinic acid, and 1,4-butanediol diacelate; in the fabrication of articles for packaging, transporting, and storing of foods; as a solvent for dyes and lacquers; and as a chemical intermediate in polymerization solvent for fat oils, unvulcanized rubber, resins, and plastics. Tetrahydrofuran is also an indirect food additive when it is in contact with the surface of articles intended for use in food processing. Tetrahydrofuran was nominated for study because of the potential for occupational exposure in humans. Male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice were exposed to tetrahydrofuran (approximately 99% pure) by inhalation for 13 weeks or 2 years. Genetic toxicology studies were conducted in Salmonella typhimurium, cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells, Drosophila melanogaster, mouse bone marrow cells, and mouse peripheral blood cells erythrocites.

14-WEEK STUDY IN RATS

Groups of 10 male and 10 female rats were exposed to 0 (chamber control), 66, 200, 600, 1,800, or 5,000 ppm tetrahydrofuran by inhalation, 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 14 weeks. All rats survived until the end of the study. Final mean body weights and mean body weight gains of exposed groups of male and female rats were similar to those of the chamber controls. Immediately after exposure, male and female rats in the 5,000 ppm groups exhibited ataxia.

Hematologic and serum chemistry changes were minimal, with most values falling within physiologic ranges. Absolute and relative thymus and spleen weights of male and female rats exposed to 5,000 ppm were significantly less than those of the chamber controls. Absolute and relative liver weights of female rats exposed to 5,000 ppm were significantly greater than those of the chamber controls. Increased incidences of minimal to mild hyperplasia of the forestomach were observed in male and female rats exposed to 5,000 ppm. Minimal suppurative inflammation was associated with forestomach hyperplasia in two male rats and four female rats exposed to 5,000 ppm.

14-WEEK STUDY IN MICE

Groups of 10 male and 10 female B6C3F1 mice were exposed to 0, 66, 200, 600, 1,800, or 5,000 ppm tetrahydrofuran by inhalation, 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 14 weeks. Two male mice exposed to 5,000 ppm died during weeks 2 and 8 of the study; one male mouse from the 5,000 ppm group was killed in a moribund state during week 4. All female mice survived until the end of the study. The final mean body weights and mean body weight gains of all exposed groups of male mice were similar to those of the chamber controls. The final mean body weight and mean body weight gain of the 5,000 ppm female mice were significantly greater than those of the chamber controls. Male and female mice exposed to 1,800 or 5,000 ppm were observed in a state of narcosis (described by stupor) during exposure periods. Mice exposed to 1,800 ppm were fully awake and alert immediately after exposure; however, mice exposed to 5,000 ppm required up to 2 hours for recovery.

Absolute and relative liver weights of male mice exposed to 600 ppm or greater and of female mice exposed to 1800 or 5,000 ppm were significantly greater than those of the chamber controls. Absolute and relative thymus weights of male mice exposed to 600, 1,800, or 5,000 ppm were significantly less than those of the chamber controls. The incidences of minimal to mild centrilobular cytomegaly of the liver in male and female mice exposed to 5,000 ppm were significantly greater than those in the chamber controls. The adrenal glands of all female mice exposed to 5,000 ppm had mild degeneration of the X-zone of the innermost cortex. Uterine atrophy was observed in all female mice exposed to 5,000 ppm.

2-YEAR STUDY IN RATS

Groups of 50 male and 50 female rats were exposed to 0, 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm tetrahydrofuran by inhalation, 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 105 weeks.

Survival, Body Weights, and Clinical Findings
Survival and mean body weights of male and female rats exposed to tetrahydrofuran were similar to those of the chamber controls.

Pathology Findings
The incidences of renal tubule epithelial adenoma or carcinoma (combined) in exposed males occurred with a positive trend, and the incidences in 600 and 1,800 ppm males exceeded the historical range for chamber controls in 2-year NTP inhalation studies.

2-YEAR STUDY IN MICE

Groups of 50 male and 50 female mice were exposed to 0, 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm tetrahydrofuran by inhalation, 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, for 105 weeks.

Survival, Body Weights, and Clinical Findings
After week 36, the survival of male mice exposed to 1,800 ppm was significantly less than that of the chamber controls. Mean body weights of male and female mice exposed to tetrahydrofuran were similar to those of the chamber controls throughout the study. Male mice exposed to 1,800 ppm were observed to be in a state of narcosis during and up to 1 hour after the exposure periods.

Pathology Findings
The incidences andmultiplicity of hepatocellular neoplasms were significantly greater in female mice exposed to 1,800 ppm than in the chamber controls. The incidence of nephropathy in 200 ppm male mice was significantly greater than that in the chamber control group. Male mice exposed to 1,800 ppm had significantly greater incidences of nonneoplastic lesions of the urogenital tract than did the chamber controls. The incidences of inflammation of the penis and urethra and necrosis of the urethra in 1,800 ppm males were slightly greater than those in the chamber controls; these may have been secondary effects of ascending urinary tract infection.

GENETIC TOXICOLOGY

Tetrahydrofuran showed little evidence of mutagenic activity in a variety of in vitro and in vivo assays. It was not mutagenic in Salmonella typhimurium, and it did not induce sister chromatid exchanges or chromosomal aberrations in cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells. These in vitro tests were conducted with and without exogenous metabolic activation from induced liver S9 enzymes. No increase in sex-linked recessive lethal mutations was detected in germ cells of male D. melanogaster exposed to tetrahydrofuran by feeding or injection. Results of in vivo assays for induction of chromosomal aberrations and sister chromatid exchanges in mouse bone marrow cells were negative. A micronucleus test in male and female mice exposed to tetrahydrofuran for 14 weeks showed no significant increases in the frequency of micronucleated erythrocytes in peripheral blood of female mice, but in male mice, analysis of micronucleated normochromatic erythrocyte levels revealed a small increase above baseline that was concluded to be equivocal.

CONCLUSIONS

Under the conditions of these 2-year inhalation studies, there was some evidence of carcinogenic activity of tetrahydrofuran in male F344/N rats based on increased incidences of renal tubule adenoma or carcinoma (combined). There was no evidence of carcinogenic activity of tetrahydrofuran in female F344/N rats exposed to 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm or male B6C3F1 mice exposed to 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm. There was clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of tetrahydrofuran in female B6C3F1 mice based on increased incidences of hepatocellular neoplasms.

Synonyms: Butylene oxide; cyclotetramethylene oxide; diethylene oxide; 1,4-epoxybutane; furanidine; hydrofuran; oxacyclopentane; oxolane; tetramethylene oxide
 


 

 

 

Summary of the 2-Year Carcinogenesis and Genetic Toxicology Studies of Tetrahydrofuran
  Male
F344/N Rats
Female
F344/N Rats
Male
B6C3F1 Mice
Female
B6C3F1 Mice
Concentrations Chamber control, 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm Chamber control, 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm Chamber control, 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm Chamber control, 200, 600, or 1,800 ppm
Body weights Exposed groups similar to chamber control group Exposed groups similar to chamber control group Exposed groups similar to chamber control group Exposed groups similar to chamber control group
2-Year survival rates 12/50, 6/50, 5/50, 6/50 25/50, 25/50, 26/50, 26/50 32/50, 31/50, 28/50, 12/50 29/50, 33/50, 26/50, 32/50
Nonneoplastic effects None None None None
Neoplastic effects Kidney: renal tubule adenoma or carcinoma (1/50, 1/50, 4/50, 5/50) None None Liver: hepatocellular adenoma (12/50, 17/50, 18/50, 31/48); hepatocellular carcinoma (6/50, 10/50, 10/50, 16/48); hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma (17/50, 24/50, 26/50, 41/48)
Levels of evidence of carcinogenic activity Some evidence No evidence No evidence Clear evidence
Genetic Toxicology
Assay Results
Salmonella typhimurium gene mutations: Negative with and without S9 in strains TA98, TA100, TA1535, and TA1537
Sister chromatid exchanges
Cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells in vitro:

Negative with and without S9
Mouse bone marrow in vivo: Negative
Chromosomal aberrations
Cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells in vitro:

Negative with and without S9
Mouse bone marrow in vivo: Negative
Sex-linked recessive lethal mutations
Drosophila melanogaster:

Negative
Micronucleated erythrocytes
Mouse peripherial blood in vivo

Equivocal in male mice; negative in female mice

Report Date: June 1998

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

Target Organs & Incidences from 2-year Studies


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