There is evidence to suggest that control mechanisms, either growth-stimulatory, inhibitory or inductive, may play a role in carcinogenesis. To test the hypothesis that treatment of rat urinary bladder with carcinogen induces alterations in the stroma which result in modified epithelial-stromal interactions, experiments were conducted using a rat model specifically designed for the study. Following exposure of Fischer F344 rats in drinking water to the urinary bladder carcinogen, N-butyl-N-(4-hydroxybutyl)nitrosamine (BHBN) for four weeks, bladders were removed and subjected to a brief detergent treatment to completely remove epithelium. The bladders without epithelium ('stroma' bladder) were heterotopically transplanted to syngeneic recipients. Four days later, the denuded mucosa surface was resurfaced with intraluminal instillation of urothelial cells, either untreated or treated with BHBN for six weeks (6w-BHBN) or 10 weeks (10w-BHBN). Examination at 12 weeks posttransplant of the 'stroma' bladders that had received 6w-BHBN urothelial cells showed a higher tumor incidence of carcinoma in the BHBN-exposed 'stroma' bladders as compared with the incidence in the carcinogen-unexposed 'stroma' bladders (p < 0.05). Examination at 18 weeks posttransplant showed 100% incidence of tumors in all 'stroma' bladders irrespective of the lengths of BHBN exposure of urothelial cells. However, among the bladders that had received 6w-BHBN urothelial cells, carcinogen-exposed 'stroma' bladders proved to be better 'soil' for neoplastic cells to proliferate; the mean tumor volume as well as the mean total tumor volume per bladder were significantly higher than in the control 'stroma' bladders (p < 0.01 for each comparison). Similarly, among the baldders that had been resurfaced with 10w-BHBN urothelial cells, the mean total tumor volume per bladder was greater in the carcinogen-treated 'stroma' bladders than in the controls (p < 0.05). No proliferative or neoplastic changes were observed in the BHBN exposed 'stroma' bladders which had been resurfaced with normal urothelial cells. Our data indicate that neoplastic growth of carcinogen treated urothelium is enhanced when such cells interact with the stroma which has also been exposed to carcinogen.
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