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

Increased therapeutic index of antineoplastic drugs in combination with intracellular histamine antagonists.

L-Histidinol, a protein synthesis inhibitor and structural analogue of L-histidine, has been demonstrated in chemotherapy-treated mice to be cytoprotective to normal stem cells but to enhance cytotoxicity to tumor cells. N,N-Diethyl-2-[4-(phenylmethyl) phenoxy]ethanamine.HCl (DPPE) is an antagonist of recently described microsomal and nuclear intracellular histamine receptors implicated in the mediation of proliferation and modulation of prostaglandin synthesis. DPPE is cytotoxic to tumor cells in vitro and cytoprotective to the gut in vivo. Noting the similar pharmacologic profiles for histidinol and DPPE and the structural resemblance between histidinol and histamine, we tested 1) whether binding to intracellular histamine receptors may be important to the action of histidinol, 2) whether there exists a differential effect of DPPE and histidinol on proliferating normal and transformed or malignant cells, and 3) whether DPPE, like histidinol, protects host cells from the effects of chemotherapy while augmenting tumor cell kill in vivo. It was observed that histidinol does compete at intracellular histamine receptors in isolated microsomes and nuclei, but with significantly lower affinity than DPPE. Nevertheless, for each agent, potency at intracellular histamine receptors correlates with potency to inhibit DNA and protein synthesis, without cytotoxicity, in normal mitogen-stimulated murine lymphocytes and to kill transformed mouse lymphocytes or MCF-7 human breast cancer cells. As demonstrated previously for histidinol (1-2 g/kg), DPPE (4 mg/kg) protected murine bone marrow progenitors from doxorubicin or fluorouracil, while doses of 4-50 mg/kg significantly enhanced the antitumor activity of doxorubicin and daunorubicin in murine models of early cancer. One postulate to explain the effects of intracellular histamine receptor ligands is that intracellular histamine mediates DNA and protein synthesis, possibly through a downward modulation of growth-inhibitory prostaglandin levels. Antagonism of the intracellular action of histamine at intracellular histamine receptors by DPPE or histidinol may result in differential perturbations of growth/eicosanoid metabolism in normal and malignant cells, thus forming the basis of a new approach to chemotherapy.[1]


  1. Increased therapeutic index of antineoplastic drugs in combination with intracellular histamine antagonists. Brandes, L.J., LaBella, F.S., Warrington, R.C. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. (1991) [Pubmed]
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