The National Cancer Institute and National Toxicology Program have performed 2-year toxicology and carcinogenesis studies with a number of ethanes substituted with chlorine or bromine. A review of the results of studies with these halogenated ethanes has revealed several consistencies between the pattern of halogen substitution and neoplastic responses in some affected organs. One of these consistencies was the finding of a modest increase in the incidence of renal tubule cell neoplasms in male rats administered penta- or hexachloroethane. Certain aspects of the nephropathy also noted in these studies resembled what is now recognized as a distinct hyaline droplet nephropathy typically associated with the accumulation of α2u-globulin in renal tubule cells. In an attempt to determine some of the structure activity relationships involved in the induction of hyaline droplet nephropathy by halogenated ethanes, a series of commercially available ethanes substituted with three or more chlorines, four or more bromines, or a combination of chlorines and fluorines was studied in a short-term renal toxicity assessment in male F344/N rats.
All chemicals were administered by gavage in corn oil to groups of five male rats once daily for 21 days. The doses selected for study, 0.62 and 1.24 mmol/kg per day, were based on those used in the 2-year pentachloroethane studies. The following chemicals were evaluated: 1,1,1,2- and 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane; pentachloroethane; 1,1,2,2-tetrachloro1,2-difluoroethane; 1,1,1-trichloro-2,2,2-trifluoroethane; 1,2-dichloro-1,1-difluoroethane; 1,1,1-trichloroethane; hexachloroethane; 1,1,1,2-and 1,1,2,2-tetrabromoethane; and pentabromoethane. Evaluations included survival, mean body weight gains, clinical signs, organ weights, urinalysis, and histopathologic examination of the right kidney and liver. The kidneys of rats that showed a difference in renal protein droplet accumulation compared to the controls were evaluated for replicative DNA synthesis by staining for proliferating cell nuclear antigen.
For most groups, survival was not affected by chemical treatment; however, all rats administered either dose of 1,1,2,2-tetrabromoethane died by Day 11, and all rats administered 1.24 mmol/kg pentabromoethane, 1,1,1,2-tetrabromoethane, or 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane died before the end of the study. Rats receiving 0.62 mmol/kg pentabromoethane gained less weight than the controls, and rats in the 0.62 mmol/kg 1,1,1,2-tetrabromoethane group lost weight during the study. Increased kidney weights and signs of renal toxicity, indicated by urinalysis results, were noted in rats in many of the groups administered halogenated ethanes, but these observations were not always coincident with a diagnosis of hyaline droplet nephropathy. Hyaline droplet nephropathy was observed only in rats receiving penta-, hexa-, or 1,1,1,2-tetrachloroethane. The renal tubule cell labeling index was increased, indicating replicative DNA synthesis, in male rats receiving chemicals that induced hyaline droplet nephropathy as well as in males receiving pentabromoethane or 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane and in female negative control rats administered pentachloroethane; thus some of the halogenated ethanes appeared to cause significant renal toxicity not associated with hyaline droplet nephropathy.
In summary, of the halogenated ethanes studied, the capacity to induce hyaline droplet nephropathy in male rats was restricted to ethanes containing four or more halogens, and only the chlorinated ethanes were active. If the ability to induce hyaline droplet nephropathy is the determining factor in the induction of renal tubule cell neoplasms by halogenated ethanes, then an absence of kidney neoplasms in male rats would be predicted in the event that 2-year studies were performed with the bromo- or chlorofluoroethanes.