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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Irinotecan-induced cytotoxicity to colon cancer cells in vitro is stimulated by pre-incubation with trifluorothymidine.

SN38 is the active metabolite of the anti-cancer agent irinotecan (CPT-11) and is a potent inhibitor of topoisomerase-I (topo-I), leading to DNA strand breaks and eventually cell death. The pyrimidine analog trifluorothymidine (TFT) is part of the anti-cancer drug formulation TAS-102, which was developed to enhance the bioavailability of TFT in vivo, and is currently being evaluated as an oral chemotherapeutic agent in phase I clinical studies. In this study, the combined cytotoxic effects of dual-targeted TFT with SN38 were investigated in a panel of human colon cancer cell lines (WiDr, H630, Colo320, SNU-C4, SW1116). We used different drug combination treatment schedules of SN38 with TFT, and possible synergism was evaluated using median drug effect analysis resulting in combination indexes (CI), in which CI<0.9 indicates synergism, CI=0.9-1.1 indicates additivity and CI>1.1 indicates antagonism. Drug target analysis was performed to investigate the effect of TFT on SN38-induced DNA damage, cell cycle delay and apoptosis. Simultaneous exposure to SN38 in combination with TFT was not more than additive, whereas pre-incubation with TFT resulted in synergism with SN38 (CI=0.3-0.6). Only for Colo320 synergism could be induced for both simultaneous and sequential drug combinations. SN38 and TFT induced most DNA damage in H630 and Colo320 cells, which was increased in combination. TFT pre-incubation further enhanced SN38-induced DNA strand breaks in H630 and Colo320 (>20%), which was most pronounced in H630 cells (p<0.01). Exposure to SN38 alone induced a clear cell cycle G2M-phase arrest and pre-incubation with TFT enhanced this effect in WiDr and H630 (p<0.05). Both drugs induced significant apoptosis; SN38-induced apoptosis increased significantly in the presence of TFT (p<0.01), either when added simultaneously (about 3-fold) or at pre-incubation (about 2-fold). Topo-I protein levels varied among the cell lines and TFT hardly affected these. In conclusion, TFT pre-incubation can enhance SN38-induced cytotoxicity to colon cancer cells resulting in synergism between the drugs, thereby increasing DNA damage and apoptosis induction.[1]


  1. Irinotecan-induced cytotoxicity to colon cancer cells in vitro is stimulated by pre-incubation with trifluorothymidine. Temmink, O.H., Hoebe, E.K., Fukushima, M., Peters, G.J. Eur. J. Cancer (2007) [Pubmed]
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