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Br J Cancer. 1994 Aug;70(2):190-4.

Modulation of cisplatin cytotoxicity by sulphasalazine.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-0565.


The efficacy of cisplatin [cis-diamminedichloroplatinum (II); DDP] is hampered by acquired or de novo resistance of malignant cells to its cytotoxic effects. We have previously reported that cisplatin resistance parallels glutathione S-transferase (GST) activity in several human small-cell lung cancer cell lines. In the presently described studies, we used sulphasalazine, an inhibitor of GSTs, to evaluate the relative role of GSTs in mediating cisplatin resistance in two human small-cell lung cancer cell lines, NCI H-69 and H-2496. The H-69 cell line, which contained relatively higher GST activity than the H-2496 cell line (317 +/- 7 vs 9 +/- 1 mU mg-1 protein respectively), also displayed a greater degree of cisplatin resistance (IC50 values of 25.0 +/- 3.9 vs 4.5 +/- 1.0 microM respectively). Western blot and Northern blot analyses of purified GSTs revealed the expression of only the pi-class GST in both cell lines. Sulphasalazine inhibited the purified GSTs (IC50 of 10 microM for H-69 and 12 microM for H-2496) from both lines in a competitive manner with similar Ki values (6.5 and 7.9 microM for the H-69 and H-2496 cell lines respectively). Cytotoxicity studies revealed that sulphasalazine increased the cytotoxicity of cisplatin towards both cell lines. Isobologram analysis showed that sulphasalazine synergistically enhanced the cytotoxicity of cisplatin towards both cell lines, the magnitude of synergy being remarkably higher in H-69 cells than in H-2496 cells. Our studies indicate that clinically achievable concentrations of sulphasalazine may be useful in modulating cisplatin resistance in malignancies with increased GST-pi content.

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