Studies on the Detection of Carcinogens Using a Mammalian Cell Transformation Assay with Liver Homogenate Activation

  • J. A. Styles


The transformation of mammalian cells in vitro has been used to study the mechanism of carcinogenesis. There are many cell transformation assays, each having a different end-point such as changes in morphology, plating efficiency, serum requirement, nuclear size, enzyme activity, growth in semi-solid agar, cyto-skeletal structure and antigenicity. These changes appear to be acquired by primary cells at different times following exposure to a carcinogen and may not all be mutational in origin. Growth in semi-solid agar is usually the last characteristic to appear in transformed cells and appears to be a mutational event. The only unequivical end-point in relation to tumorigenesis is transplantation of transformed cells into a suitable host followed by the evolution on an invasive tumour. While there is a close relationship between growth in semi-solid agar and tumour formation following transplantation this correlation is not of overriding importance in the use of in vitro transformation as a short-term predictive assay for chemical carcinogens. A test method using BHK C1 13 cells in semi-solid agar and including liver homogenates for metabolic activation has been used to screen organic chemicals and found to be very accurate in discriminating between carcinogens and non-carcinogens and has detected several classes of carcinogen which were not identified by the Salmonella reverse mutation assay. Our experience with the cell transformation assay so far indicates that it cannot be used for predicting the potency of a carcinogen.


Syrian Hamster Chemical Carcinogen Ames Test Chemical Carcinogenesis Transformation Assay 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Styles
    • 1
  1. 1.Central Toxicology LaboratoryImperial Chemical Industries, LimitedMacClesfield, CheshireUK

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