Thompson CM, Proctor DM, Haws LC, Hebert CD, Grimes SD, Shertzer HG, Kopec AK, Hixon JG, Zacharewski TR, Harris MA. 2011. Investigation of the mode of action underlying the tumorigenic response induced in B6C3F1 mice exposed orally to hexavalent chromium. Toxicol Sci 123(1): 58-70.
Chronic ingestion of high concentrations of hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] in drinking water induces intestinal tumors in mice. To investigate the mode of action (MOA) underlying these tumors, a 90-day drinking water study was conducted using similar exposure conditions as in a previous cancer bioassay, as well as lower (heretofore unexamined) drinking water concentrations. Tissue samples were collected in mice exposed for 7 or 90 days and subjected to histopathological, biochemical, toxicogenomic, and toxicokinetic analyses. Described herein are the results of toxicokinetic, biochemical, and pathological findings. Following 90 days of exposure to 0.3–520 mg/l of sodium dichromate dihydrate (SDD), total chromium concentrations in the duodenum were significantly elevated at ≥ 14 mg/l. At these concentrations, significant decreases in the reduced-to-oxidized glutathione ratio (GSH/GSSG) were observed. Beginning at 60 mg/l, intestinal lesions were observed including villous cytoplasmic vacuolization. Atrophy, apoptosis, and crypt hyperplasia were evident at ≥ 170 mg/l. Protein carbonyls were elevated at concentrations ≥ 4 mg/l SDD, whereas oxidative DNA damage, as assessed by 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine, was not increased in any treatment group. Significant decreases in the GSH/GSSG ratio and similar histopathological lesions as observed in the duodenum were also observed in the jejunum following 90 days of exposure. Cytokine levels (e.g., interleukin-1β) were generally depressed or unaltered at the termination of the study. Overall, the data suggest that Cr(VI) in drinking water can induce oxidative stress, villous cytotoxicity, and crypt hyperplasia in the mouse intestine and may underlie the MOA of intestinal carcinogenesis in mice.