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National Toxicology Program technical report series

Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of alpha-methylstyrene (Cas No. 98-83-9) in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice (inhalation studies).


PMID 18685715

Abstract

alpha-Methylstyrene is used in the production of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene resins and copolymers, which improve the impact and heat-resistant properties of polymers, specialty grades of plastics, rubber, and protective coatings. alpha-Methylstyrene also moderates polymerization rates and improves product clarity in coatings and resins. Low molecular weight liquid polymers are used as plasticizers in paints, waxes, adhesives, and plastics. alpha-Methylstyrene was nominated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for toxicologic evaluation and genotoxicity studies based on its high production volume and limited information available on its toxicity. Male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice were exposed to alpha-methylstyrene (99.5% pure) by inhalation for 3 months or 2 years. Inhalation studies were conducted because the primary route of human exposure is via inhalation. Genetic toxicology studies were conducted in Salmonella typhimurium, cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells, and mouse peripheral blood erythrocytes. 3-MONTH STUDY IN RATS: Groups of 10 male and 10 female rats were exposed by whole-body inhalation to alpha-methylstyrene at concentrations of 0, 75, 150, 300, 600, or 1,000 ppm for 6 hours per day, 5 days per week for 14 weeks. Additional clinical pathology groups of 10 male and 10 female rats were exposed to the same concentrations for 23 days. All rats survived to the end of the study, and mean body weights of all exposed groups were similar to those of the chamber controls. Kidney weights were significantly increased in 1,000 ppm males and 600 and 1,000 ppm females. Statistically significant increases in liver weights occurred in 150 ppm or greater males and 600 and 1,000 ppm females. The incidences of renal hyaline droplet accumulation were similar between exposed groups and chamber control groups, but the severity of hyaline droplet accumulation in 600 and 1,000 ppm males was greater than in chamber controls. Consistent with the hyaline droplet accumulation, an exposure-related increase in alpha2μ-globulin was detected in the kidneys of males exposed to alpha-methylstyrene. Morphologic changes were not detected in the liver. 3-MONTH STUDY IN MICE: Groups of 10 male and 10 female mice were exposed by whole-body inhalation to alpha-methylstyrene at concentrations of 0, 75, 150, 300, 600, or 1,000 ppm for 6 hours per day, 5 days per week for 14 weeks. Two female mice in the 1,000 ppm group died before exposure on day 3. Final mean body weights of 600 and 1,000 ppm males and 75, 300, and 1,000 ppm females were significantly less than those of the chamber controls; final mean body weight gains of mice exposed to 300 ppm or greater were also significantly less. Moderate to severe sedation (males only) and ataxia were observed in 1,000 ppm mice. The absolute liver weights of 600 and 1,000 ppm females and the relative liver weights of 300, 600, and 1,000 ppm males and females were significantly increased. The estrous cycle lengths of 600 and 1,000 ppm female mice were significantly longer than that of the chamber controls. Minimal to mild centrilobular hypertrophy was present in the livers of male and female mice exposed to 600 or 1,000 ppm alpha-methylstyrene. The incidences of exposure-related nasal lesions, including atrophy and hyperplasia of Bowman's glands and atrophy and metaplasia of the olfactory epithelium, were significantly increased in all exposed groups of males and females. The incidences of hyaline degeneration, characterized by the accumulation of eosinophilic globules in the cytoplasm of the respiratory epithelium, were significantly increased in females exposed to 150 ppm or greater. 2-YEAR STUDY IN RATS: Groups of 50 male and 50 female rats were exposed by whole body inhalation to alpha-methylstyrene at concentrations of 0, 100, 300, or 1,000 ppm for 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, except holidays, for 105 weeks. Survival rates of exposed male and female rats were similar to those of the chamber controls. The mean body weights of 1,000 ppm males and females were less than those of the chamber control groups during year 2 of the study. Two 1,000 ppm males and one 300 ppm male had renal tubule carcinomas, and one 300 ppm male had a renal tubule adenoma. Because of the neoplasms observed in 300 and 1,000 ppm males at the end of the 2-year study and the finding of alpha2μ-globulin accumulation in the kidneys at 3 months, which is often associated with kidney neoplasms, additional step sections of kidney were prepared; additional males with focal hyperplasia or adenoma were identified. The incidences of renal tubule adenoma and carcinoma (combined) in the 1,000 ppm males were significantly greater than those in the chamber controls when the single and step sections were combined. The incidence of mineralization of the renal papilla was significantly increased in 1,000 ppm males. The incidence of mononuclear cell leukemia in 1,000 ppm males was significantly increased compared to the chamber controls. In the nose, the incidences of basal cell hyperplasia were significantly increased in all exposed groups of males and females, and the incidences of degeneration of the olfactory epithelium were increased in 1,000 ppm males and females and 300 ppm females. 2-YEAR STUDY IN MICE: Groups of 50 male and 50 female mice were exposed by whole body inhalation to alpha-methylstyrene at concentrations of 0, 100, 300, or 600 ppm for 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, except holidays, for 105 weeks. Survival of all exposed male and female mice was similar to that of the chamber control groups. Mean body weights of 600 ppm males were less than those of the chamber control group throughout the study, and those of 600 ppm females were less after week 13. The mean body weights of 300 ppm males and females were less than those of the chamber controls during much of the study, but these groups recovered by the end of the study. The incidences of hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma (combined) were significantly increased in the 100 and 600 ppm males and in all exposed groups of females. The incidences of hepatocellular adenoma were significantly increased in all exposed groups of females, and the incidences in all exposed groups of males and females exceeded the historical range for chamber controls. The incidences of hepatocellular carcinoma and eosinophilic foci of the liver were significantly increased in 600 ppm females. The incidences of olfactory epithelial metaplasia and hyperplasia of the glands overlying the olfactory epithelium were significantly increased in all exposed groups of males and females. In addition, atrophy of the olfactory epithelium was significantly increased in 300 and 600 ppm males. The incidence and severity of nephropathy were increased in 600 ppm females compared to chamber controls. Epithelial hyperplasia of the forestomach also was present in male mice. alpha-Methylstyrene was not mutagenic in four strains of Salmonella typhimurium, with or without rat or hamster liver metabolic activation enzymes (S9). alpha-Methylstyrene did not induce chromosomal aberrations in cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells, with or without S9 activation, but did significantly increase the frequency of sister chromatid exchanges in cultures exposed in the presence of S9. In vivo, no significant increases in the frequencies of micronucleated erythrocytes were seen in blood samples of male mice obtained at the conclusion of the 3-month study. However, in female mice from the 3-month study, a significant increase in micronucleated erythrocytes was observed in the 1,000 ppm group. Under the conditions of this 2-year inhalation study, there was some evidence of carcinogenic activity of alpha-methylstyrene in male F344/N rats based on increased incidences of renal tubule adenomas and carcinomas (combined). The increased incidence of mononuclear cell leukemia in 1,000 ppm male F344/N rats may have been related to alpha-methylstyrene exposure. There was no evidence of carcinogenic activity of alpha-methylstyrene in female F344/N rats exposed to 100, 300, or 1,000 ppm. There was equivocal evidence of carcinogenic activity of alpha-methylstyrene in male B6C3F1 mice based on marginally increased incidences of hepatocellular adenoma or carcinoma (combined). There was clear evidence of carcinogenic activity of alpha-methylstyrene in female B6C3F1 mice based on increased incidences of hepatocellular adenomas and carcinomas. Exposure of rats to alpha-methylstyrene resulted in kidney toxicity, which in males exhibited some features of alpha2μ-globulin nephropathy. Exposure to alpha-methylstyrene resulted in nonneoplastic lesions of the nose in male and female rats and mice and of the liver and kidney in female mice.