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Lung Cancer. 2005 Sep;49(3):345-51.

The role of thymidylate synthase and dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase in resistance to 5-fluorouracil in human lung cancer cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Molecular Science, Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, 1 Kawasumi, Mizuho-cho, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya 467-8601, Japan.


The expressions of thymidylate synthase (TS) and intracellular metabolic enzymes have been reported to be associated with the sensitivity and/or resistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). However, since the role of these enzymes in the mechanism of resistance to 5-FU has not been fully examined in lung cancer, in the present study we measured the expression levels of TS, dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), thymidine phosphorylase (TP), and orotate phosphoribosyltransferase (OPRT) genes in lung cancer cell lines by real-time PCR, and the sensitivity to 5-FU using the MTS assay. The expression of DPD was significantly correlated with the concentration of 5-FU for 50% cell survival in 15 non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines (p<0.05), but the expressions of TS, TP, and OPRT were not. Treatment with 5-chloro-2,4-dihydroxypyridine, an inhibitor of DPD, altered the sensitivity to 5-FU in DPD-expressing RERF-LC-MT cells, indicating that modulation of DPD activity could increase the 5-FU sensitivity in lung cancer. In contrast, TS expression was dramatically higher in a 5-FU-resistant small-cell lung cancer cell line than in the parent cell line, whereas the expressions of DPD, TP, and OPRT genes were not markedly different. In order to examine the effect of other cytotoxic agents on TS and DPD expression, we compared the expressions of both genes between cisplatin-, paclitaxel-, gemcitabine-, or 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin-resistant lung cancer cells and their respective parent cells, but found no differences between any pair of resistant subline and the corresponding parent cell line. Our results indicate that degradation of 5-FU due to DPD is an important determinant in 5-FU sensitivity, while induction of TS contributes to acquired resistance against 5-FU in lung cancer. Therefore, the expression levels of TS and DPD genes may be useful indicators of 5-FU activity in lung cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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