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Cancer Res. 1985 Sep;45(9):4067-70.

Effect of inhibition of polyamine biosynthesis by DL-alpha-difluoromethylornithine on the growth and melanogenesis of B16 melanoma in vitro and in vivo.


The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of polyamine depletion by alpha-difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a specific irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, on the growth and differentiation of B16 melanoma cells grown in culture and also as solid tumors in mice. Polyamine depletion by DFMO (2.5 mM) resulted in a complete inhibition of cell growth in culture and a 90% inhibition of viability of melanoma cells as determined by clonogenic assay at the end of 7 days after DFMO treatment. These results indicate that polyamine depletion induced by DFMO is cytotoxic to B16 melanoma cells in culture. Furthermore a 2- to 5-fold increase in tyrosinase activity and 10-fold accumulation of melanine were observed in polyamine depleted cells compared to control cultures. These effects of DFMO could easily be reversed by the addition of putrescine simultaneously with DFMO. Administration of different doses of DFMO in drinking water to B16 melanoma tumor bearing mice also resulted in an increase in tyrosinase activity and a dose dependent inhibition (86-90%) of tumor growth. Although one cannot rule out the possibility of induction of differentiated phenotype as a result of antiproliferative activity of DFMO, the data presented indicate that the unique sensitivity of melanoma to DFMO may be due to a combination of cell growth inhibition and concomitant induction of differentiation upon polyamine depletion. The results of the present study indicate that polyamines play an important role in growth and differentiation of melanoma and also provide an example of inhibition of tumor cell growth by induction of cellular differentiation.

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