Potentiation of the Antitumor Activity of 5-Fluorouracil in Colon Carcinoma Cells by the Combination of Interferon and Deoxyribonucleosides Results from Complementary Effects on Thymidine Phosphorylase1

Edward L. Schwartz, Nicole Baptiste, Carolyn J. O'Connor, Scott Wadler, Brian A. Otter

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α-Interferon (IFNa) potentiates the cytotoxicity of 5-fluorouracil (FUra) in vitro, and the combination has clinical efficacy in advanced colorectal cancer. We have reported previously an IFNα-mediated elevation in cellular FdUMP levels accompanied by the stimulation of thymidine Phosphorylase (TP) activity in extracts from HT-29 human colon carcinoma cells treated with IFNa. We have now found that this effect of IFNa can be measured in vivo as an increase in thymine incorporation in intact cells. The increase was only 3-fold, however, compared to the 12-fold increase seen in TP activity in cell extracts. This suggested that the cosubstrate for TP, deoxyribose-1 -phosphate, was rate limiting in the cells. Since the synthetic pathway of TP can also proceed via a transferase reaction, natural and modified deoxyribonucleosides were tested as deoxyribosyl donors. TP activity was measurable in cell extracts using deoxyinosine as cosubstrate with either thymine or FUra, although activity was only 10% of that measured with deoxyribose-l-phosphate. The pyrimidine analogue 5-propynyIoxy-2 ‘ -deoxyuridine (PO-dUrd) had 15% of the maximal TP activity in cell extracts and also increased thymine incorporation in intact cells 10-fold. Both 2’-deoxyinosine and PO-dUrd potentiated the cytotoxicity of FUra by 8-11-fold. IFNa potentiated the cytotoxicity of FUra by 1.8-fold, and the combination of IFNa and PO-dUrd produced a 25-fold increase in the cytotoxicity of FUra. Neither the corresponding analogue riboside, 5-propynyloxyuridine, nor the analogue base, 5-propynyloxyuracil, had any effect on FUra cytotoxicity. There was a significant correlation between the ability of a nucleoside and/or IFNa combination to increase thymine incorporation and to reduce the 50% inhibitory concentration for FUra. IFNa and PO-dUrd also potentiated the inhibition by FUra of thymidylate synthase activity. These findings suggest that the use of a deoxyribonucleoside to provide the rate limiting cosubstrate would complement the stimulation of TP by IFNα, and together they should further enhance the antitumor activity of FUra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1472-1478
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 15 1994


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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