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Carcinogenesis. 1995 Sep;16(9):2215-22.

Liarozole potentiates the cancer chemopreventive activity of and the up-regulation of gap junctional communication and connexin43 expression by retinoic acid and beta-carotene in 10T1/2 cells.

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Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, University of Hawaii, Honolulu 96813, USA.


Liarozole has been reported to inhibit P450 enzymes responsible for the catabolism of retinoic acid. This suggests that it may increase the effectiveness of cancer chemopreventive agents, such as retinoic acid, and pro-vitamin A carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, which may yield retinoids. To test this we have utilized the 10T1/2 cell assay system of neoplastic transformation. Simultaneous treatment with Liarozole (10(-5) M) potentiated by a factor of 1000 the ability of low concentrations of retinoic acid (10(-10) M) to inhibit carcinogen-induced neoplastic transformation, to up-regulate gap junctional communication and to increase connexin43 expression. When tested under conventional culture conditions, Liarozole itself partially suppressed neoplastic transformation and up-regulated gap junctional communication; this ability appears due to the presence of retinol in the serum component of cell culture medium. When assays for junctional communication and of connexin43 expression were performed under defined conditions, in the absence of serum, Liarozole was ineffective alone, yet still augmented the effects of retinoic acid. HPLC analysis of cell culture medium demonstrated that Liarozole (10(-5) M) completely protected retinoic acid (10(-6) M) from catabolism over a 48 h period. Potential effects of Liarozole on the activities of carotenoids were also examined. Inhibition of neoplastic transformation by the pro-vitamin A carotenoid beta-carotene, but not by the non-pro-vitamin A carotenoid canthaxanthin, was moderately potentiated by Liarozole. The augmentation of response to beta-carotene was more apparent when tested under defined conditions; here Liarozole strongly increased junctional communication and Cx43 expression. In contrast, Liarozole did not potentiate the activity of canthaxanthin under defined conditions, while increasing the activity of 4-keto retinoic acid, a likely metabolite. Liarozole also elevated connexin43 expression in early passage human fibroblasts. These data indicate that rapid catabolism of retinoic acid limits its in vitro activities, that a portion of the action of beta-carotene as a cancer preventive agent is due to its conversion to retinoic acid and that canthaxathin exerts its chemopreventive action largely independent of conversion to 4-keto retinoic acid.

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