Differences in the induction of DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, and cell death by 5-fluorouracil and antifolates

H H Backus, H M Pinedo, D Wouters, C M Kuiper, G Jansen, C J van Groeningen, G J Peters

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Thymidylate synthase (TS) is an important target for chemotherapy and can be inhibited by 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and the antifolates, AG337 (Nolatrexed) and multitargeted antifolate (MTA or Pemetrexed). In addition, 5-FU can be incorporated into RNA and DNA, and MTA can inhibit two other enzymes. It is, however, unclear to what extent these differences in drug action will influence activation of downstream mechanisms mediated via TS inhibition. Therefore, two human colon cancer cell lines, WiDr and Lovo, with a different clonogenic origin, were treated with equitoxic concentrations of 5-FU, AG337, and MTA to determine the induction of DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, downstream protein expression, and cell death. At these concentrations, the specific TS inhibitor AG337 induced more DNA damage (up to 20%) than MTA and 5-FU. FACS analysis showed that all drugs induced S phase arrest in Lovo and WiDr that was most pronounced after 5-FU and AG337 exposure (50-70%). Western blotting showed that p53 induction was not detectable in mutant (mt) p53 WiDr and increased much earlier in wild-type (wt) Lovo cells after 5-FU and MTA (24 h) than after AG337 exposure (72 h). In contrast to 5-FU-treated Lovo cells, the bcl-2/bax ratio decreased after antifolate exposure. Nevertheless, both 5-FU and antifolates induced similar amounts of cell death (up to 60%). These results demonstrate that in human colon cancer cells differences in downstream events between AG337 and 5-FU or MTA are related to the additional effects of 5-FU and MTA, which are not associated with TS inhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-9
Number of pages9
JournalOncology Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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