Ten factors for considering the mode of action of Cr(VI)-induced gastrointestinal tumors in rodents


  • Hexavalent chromium, Cr(VI), induces intestinal tumors in mice.
  • Eastmond enumerated 10 factors for determining a mutagenic mode of action.
  • These 10 factors are used to assess the mode of action for Cr(VI).
  • Analysis supports a non-mutagenic mode of action for Cr(VI).


The determination of whether a chemical induces a specific cancer through a mutagenic or non-mutagenic mode of action (MOA) plays an important role in choosing between linear and nonlinear low-dose extrapolation to derive toxicity criteria. There is no formal framework from the U.S. EPA for determining whether environmental chemicals act through a mutagenic or non-mutagenic MOA; consequently, most such determinations are made on an ad hoc basis. Eastmond [Mutat Res 751 (2012)] recently conducted a systematic investigation of MOA determinations by U.S. and international regulatory agencies and organizations, and identified ten major factors that influence them, including toxicokinetics, in vivo genotoxicity in target organs, data quality, and evidence for alternative MOAs. We have used these ten factors to evaluate mutagenic vs. non mutagenic MOA for gastrointestinal tumors induced by oral exposure to hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)]. We also highlight similarities between Cr(VI) and other intestinal carcinogens previously determined to have non-genotoxic MOAs. Based on these analyses, we conclude that the MOA for Cr(VI) induced gastrointestinal tumors is non-mutagenic and that threshold risk assessment approaches are appropriate.

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