Swelling under carefully controlled conditions has been used to study alterations in the structure of rat liver mitochondria as a result of feeding azo dyes. The changes of the swelling properties of the mitochondria during feeding of the hepatocarcinogenic 3'-methyl-4-dimethylaminoazobenzene are essentially comparable to those observed previously with the microsomes, under the same dietary conditions. These alterations in mitochondrial swelling are not related to changes in the amount of these cell particulates per unit weight of tissue, during feeding of this azo dye. As with the microsomes, feeding of the isomeric but relatively noncarcinogenic 2-methyl-4-dimethylaminoazobenzene does not affect swelling. The structural differences between liver and hepatoma mitochondria show up not only in the rate and extent of swelling but also in the form of the curves of pH dependence.

The influence of ketones and sulfhydryl compounds on the swelling of normal liver mitochondria were studied, with particular emphasis to the role of sulfhydryl groups in membrane permeability.

The sudden steep rise in the tumor incidence in groups of rats fed 3'-methyl-4-dimethylaminoazobenzene for increasing intervals of time occurs at about 4 weeks. This time correlates with the point of the minimum swelling of microsomes and mitochondria isolated from the livers of rats fed this same dye. Thus, a correlation is established between the alterations of the swelling properties of these particulates and the carcinogenic process.

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