Evaluation of the human hazard of the liver and lung tumors in mice treated with permethrin based on mode of action

Tomoya Yamada, Brian G. Lake, Samuel M. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The non-genotoxic synthetic pyrethroid insecticide permethrin produced hepatocellular adenomas and bronchiolo-alveolar adenomas in female CD-1 mice, but not in male CD-1 mice or in female or male Wistar rats. Studies were performed to evaluate possible modes of action (MOAs) for permethrin-induced female CD-1 mouse liver and lung tumor formation. The MOA for liver tumor formation by permethrin involves activation of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα), increased hepatocellular proliferation, development of altered hepatic foci, and ultimately liver tumors. This MOA is similar to that established for other PPARα activators and is considered to be qualitatively not plausible for humans. The MOA for lung tumor formation by permethrin involves interaction with Club cells, followed by a mitogenic effect resulting in Club cell proliferation, with prolonged administration producing Club cell hyperplasia and subsequently formation of bronchiolo-alveolar adenomas. Although the possibility that permethrin exposure may potentially result in enhancement of Club cell proliferation in humans cannot be completely excluded, there is sufficient information on differences in basic lung anatomy, physiology, metabolism, and biologic behavior of tumors in the general literature to conclude that humans are quantitatively less sensitive to agents that increase Club cell proliferation and lead to tumor formation in mice. The evidence strongly indicates that Club cell mitogens are not likely to lead to increased susceptibility to lung tumor development in humans. Overall, based on MOA evaluation it is concluded that permethrin does not pose a tumorigenic hazard for humans, this conclusion being supported by negative data from permethrin epidemiological studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalCritical reviews in toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Carcinogenicity
  • Club cells
  • cell proliferation
  • enzyme induction
  • hepatocytes
  • human relevance
  • liver tumor
  • lung tumor
  • mitogen
  • mode of action
  • non-genotoxic
  • permethrin
  • peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha
  • risk assessment
  • species differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of the human hazard of the liver and lung tumors in mice treated with permethrin based on mode of action'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this