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Cancer Res. 2002 Jul 15;62(14):4109-14.

Noscapine alters microtubule dynamics in living cells and inhibits the progression of melanoma.

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Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Cellular microtubules, polymers of tubulin, alternate relentlessly between phases of growth and shortening. We now show that noscapine, a tubulin-binding agent, increases the time that cellular microtubules spend idle in a paused state. As a result, most mammalian cell types observed arrest in mitosis in the presence of noscapine. We demonstrate that noscapine-treated murine melanoma B16LS9 cells do not arrest in mitosis but rather become polyploid followed by cell death, whereas primary melanocytes reversibly arrest in mitosis and resume a normal cell cycle after noscapine removal. Furthermore, in a syngeneic murine model of established s.c. melanoma, noscapine treatment resulted in an 85% inhibition of tumor volume on day 17 when delivered by gavage compared with untreated animals (P <or= 0.01), without evidence of toxicity to the spleen, liver, duodenum, bone marrow, or peripheral blood. This inhibition was greater than that seen in vivo by paclitaxel (Taxol) alone and similar to the inhibition of tumor volume observed when noscapine was combined with paclitaxel. Importantly, noscapine also demonstrated the ability to significantly inhibit melanoma progression by 83% on day 18 when delivered in drinking water (P <or= 0.01) and conferred a significant survival advantage (P <or= 0.01). Our results demonstrate that p.o.-administered noscapine significantly inhibits the progression of melanoma cells through alterations in microtubule dynamics, with no detected toxicity to the host. Consequently, noscapine could be a valuable chemotherapeutic agent, alone or in combination, for the treatment of advanced melanoma.

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