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Response of the rat to saccharin with particular reference to the urinary bladder


Male and female Wistar rats were administered sodium saccharin for life (2 yr) either in the drinking water or diet. The maximum palatable dose of saccharin in the drinking water was found to be 2 g/kg/day and, even then, there was some voluntary restriction of fluid intake in the males. By contrast, double this dose--namely 4 g/kg/day, was palatable in the diet. A control group of rats of both sexes received saccharin-free diet and drinking water. Mild urothelial hyperplasias developed from 85 weeks in rats of both sexes receiving saccharin either in the drinking water or diet; the incidence was statistically significant in both the bladders and kidneys of rats receiving the higher dose of saccharin in the diet, but in the kidneys only of rats receiving the lower dose of saccharin in the drinking water. Telangiectasia of the vasa recta was significant in saccharin-treated rats of both sexes at both doses. A very low incidence of bladder tumours, exclusively in males receiving the higher saccharin dose in the diet was seen from 95 weeks. No consistent relationship between bladder epithelial hyperplasias and crystalluria could be demonstrated, although all 3 bladder tumours were associated with some form of mineralisation. Results suggest a particular susceptibility of males to saccharin treatment. The possibility that saccharin may promote, or enhance, the development of latent tumour cells already present in the experimental population, rather than initiate carcinogenesis per se is considered.

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Chowaniec, J., Hicks, R. Response of the rat to saccharin with particular reference to the urinary bladder. Br J Cancer 39, 355–375 (1979).

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