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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1979 Jul; 76(7): 3246–3250.
PMCID: PMC383801

Antineoplastic activity of poly(L-lysine) with some ascites tumor cells.


We have found that poly(L-lysine) can be a very effective agent in preventing the growth of Ehrlich ascites tumors in mice. When given optimal doses of poly(L-lysine) (Mr 60 x 10(3)) intraperitoneally for 5 consecutive days, beginning on day 1 after inoculation with Ehrlich ascites cells. White Swiss mice show nearly a 100% remission from subsequent tumor growth. Rechallenge of "cured" animals with tumor cells, however shows no long-term immunological protection. In tissue culture, poly(L-lysine) shows a related potent cytotoxicity with HeLa cells; interestingly, the D isomer. In addition, there is a strong molecular weight dependence in that the small polylysine (Mr 3 x 10(3)) possesses less than 1/20th the cytotoxicity of large polymers (Mr 70 x 10(3)) on a weight basis in both cell culture and animal studies. At the same time, none of these lysine polymers gives any significant increase in life span to BDF1 mice infected with L1210 murine leukemia cells. We have also further explored the mechanism by which the polylysines express their cytotoxicity. These data indicate that lysine polymers show cell specificity in their action and in some cases they may be beneficial as potent antineoplastic agents, particularly when molecular weight is taken into consideration.

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