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Eur J Cancer Clin Oncol. 1989 Sep;25(9):1295-302.

The cause of death in non-metastasizing sarcoma-bearing mice. A study with relevance for tumor treatment experiments in mice.

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Department of Surgery, University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska Hospital, Sweden.


Adult sarcoma-bearing mice were used to demonstrate whether hypoglycemia was the immediate cause of death in experimental animals with rapidly growing tumors without metastases. This kind of tumor model is representative of the majority of animal models used in experimental cancer research. Tumor-bearing animals died with severe hypoglycemia under all experimental conditions, while pair-killed controls were normoglycemic. Anorexia prevented tumor-bearing animals from attenuating the hypoglycemia by drinking glucose-containing water while completely starved control animals survived more than 14 days with glucose-containing water as the only energy source. Adrenalectomy shortened survival in tumor-bearing animals, but survival of adrenalectomized tumor-bearing animals could be normalized by daily injections of pharmacologic doses of hydrocortisone (25 mg/25 g body wt/day) but not by physiologic replacement (20 micrograms/25 g body wt/day). Injections of pharmacologic doses of hydrocortisone did not influence on survival or body composition in tumor-bearing animals with intact adrenals. Glucagon was without effect on either survival, tumor growth or body composition. Based on the results in this study and in our previous reports we conclude that hypoglycemia is the cause of death in the majority of murine tumor models. This hypoglycemic theory is important, since any treatment modality in animal experiments that influences glucose metabolism in the host may indirectly change tumor growth and may thus be misinterpreted as a direct tumor effect.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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