5. Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis and Impairment of Fertility
Two-year carcinogenicity studies of minoxidil have been conducted by the dermal and oral (dietary) routes of administration in mice and rats. There were no positive findings with the oral (dietary) route of administration in rats.
In the two-year dermal study in mice, an increased incidence of mammary adenomas and adenocarcinomas in the females at all dose levels (8, 25 and 80 mg/kg/day) was attributed to increased prolactin activity. Hyperprolactinemia is a well-known mechanism in the enhancement of mouse mammary tumors, but has not been associated with mammary tumorigenesis in women. Additionally, topical minoxidil has not been shown to cause hyperprolactinemia in women on clinical trials. Absorption of minoxidil through rodent skin is greater than would be experienced by patients treated topically with minoxidil for hair loss. Dietary administration of minoxidil to mice for up to 2 years was associated with an increased incidence of malignant lymphomas in females at all dose levels (10, 25 and 63 mg/kg/day) and an increased incidence of hepatic nodules in males (63 mg/kg/day). There was no effect of dietary minoxidil on the incidence of malignant liver tumors.
In the two-year dermal study in rats there were significant increases in incidence of pheochromocytomas in males and females and preputial gland adenomas in males. Changes in incidence of neoplasms found to be increased in the dermal or oral carcinogenicity studies were typical of those expected in rodents treated with other hypotensive agents (adrenal pheochromocytomas in rats), treatment-related hormonal alterations (mammary carcinomas in female mice; preputial gland adenomas in male rats) or representative of normal variations within the range of historical incidence for rodent neoplasms (malignant lymphomas, liver nodules/adenomas in mice). Based on differences in absorption of minoxidil and mechanisms of tumorigenesis in these rodent species, none of these changes were considered to be relevant to the safety of patients treated topically with minoxidil for hair loss.
There was no evidence of epithelial hyperplasia or tumorigenesis at the sites of topical application of minoxidil in either species in the 2-year dermal carcinogenesis studies. No evidence of carcinogenicity was detected in rats or rabbits treated topically with minoxidil for one year. Topical minoxidil (2% and 5%) did not significantly (p<0.05) reduce the latency period of UV light-initiated skin tumors in hairless mice, as compared to controls, in a 12-month photocarcinogenicity study.
Minoxidil was not mutagenic in the Salmonella (Ames) test, the DNA damage alkaline elution assay, the in vitro rat hepatocyte unscheduled DNA synthesis (UDS) assay, the rat bone marrow micronucleus assay, or the mouse bone marrow micronucleus assay. An equivocal result was recorded in an in vitro cytogenetic assay using Chinese hamster cells at long exposure times, but a similar assay using human lymphocytes was negative.
In a study in which male and female rats received one or five times the maximum recommended human oral antihypertensive dose of minoxidil (multiples based on a 50 kg patient) there was a dose-dependent reduction in conception rate.
Pregnancy Category C. Oral administration of minoxidil has been associated with evidence of increased fetal resorption in rabbits, but not rats, when administered at five times the maximum recommended oral antihypertensive human dose. There was no evidence of teratogenic effects in rats and rabbits. Subcutaneous administration of minoxidil to pregnant rats at 80 mg/kg/day was maternally toxic but not teratogenic. Higher subcutaneous doses produced evidence of developmental toxicity. There are no adequate and well controlled studies in pregnant women. LONITEN should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.