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In vitro Perturbations of Targets in Cancer Hallmark Processes Predict Rodent Chemical Carcinogenesis
KLEINSTREUER, N., D. J. DIX, K. A. HOUCK, R. J. KAVLOCK, T. B. KNUDSEN, M. T. MARTIN, K. B. PAUL, D. REIF, K. M. CROFTON, K. HAMILTON, R. HUNTER, I. A. SHAH, AND R. JUDSON. In vitro Perturbations of Targets in Cancer Hallmark Processes Predict Rodent Chemical Carcinogenesis. TOXICOLOGICAL SCIENCES. Oxford University Press, Cary, NC, Epub(Advance Access):1-44, (2012).
Given the multi-factorial etiology of cancer and the large numbers of chemicals with unknown cancer potential that need to be evaluated, there is a need for more efficient screening beginning with predictive in vitro methods to build a pathway-based understanding for groups or classes of chemicals.
Thousands of untested chemicals in the environment require efficient characterization of carcinogenic potential in humans. A proposed solution is rapid testing of chemicals using in vitro high-throughput screening (HTS) assays for targets in pathways linked to disease processes to build models for priority-setting and further testing. We describe a model for predicting rodent carcinogenicity based on HTS data from 292 chemicals tested in 672 assays mapping to 455 genes. All data come from the EPA ToxCast project. The model was trained on a subset of 232 chemicals with in vivo rodent carcinogenicity data in the Toxicity Reference Database (ToxRefDB). Individual HTS assays strongly associated with rodent cancers in ToxRefDB were linked to genes, pathways and hallmark processes documented to be involved in tumor biology and cancer progression. Rodent liver cancer endpoints were linked to well-documented pathways such as PPAR signaling and TP53 and novel targets such as PDE5A and PLAUR. Cancer hallmark genes associated with rodent thyroid tumors were found to be linked to human thyroid tumors and autoimmune thyroid disease. A model was developed in which these genes/pathways function as hypothetical enhancers or promoters of rat thyroid tumors, acting secondary to the key initiating event of thyroid hormone disruption. A simple scoring function was generated to identify chemicals with significant in vitro evidence that was predictive of in vivo carcinogenicity in different rat tissues and organs. This scoring function was applied to an external test set of 33 compounds with carcinogenicity classifications from the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs and successfully (p=0.024) differentiated between chemicals classified as "possible"/"probable"/ “likely” carcinogens and those designated as “not likely” or with “evidence of non-carcinogenicity”. This model represents a chemical carcinogenicity prioritization tool supporting targeted testing and functional validation of cancer pathways.