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Eur J Cancer. 1997 May;33(6):950-9.

Relevance of tumoral folylpolyglutamate synthetase and reduced folates for optimal 5-fluorouracil efficacy: experimental data.

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Laboratoire d'Oncopharmacologie, Centre Antoine Lacassagne, Nice, France.


The purpose of this study was to investigate folate-related predictors of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) cytotoxicity in the presence or absence of l-folinic acid (l-FA). Intracellular concentrations of the reduced folates (tetrahydrofolate + 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate) and folylpolyglutamate synthetase (FPGS) activity were determined in 14 human cancer cell lines expressing a spontaneous sensitivity to 5-FU. On these 14 cell lines grown without l-FA supplementation, a significant positive correlation was demonstrated between basal intracellular folate concentration and FPGS activity. 5-FU sensitivity (IC50 range 0.6-25.4 microM) was not related to the basal intracellular folate concentration, whereas, significantly, it was linked to FPGS activity (range 2.5-11.1 pmol/min/mg protein): the higher the FPGS activity, the greater the 5-FU sensitivity. Under l-FA supplementation (0.01-300 microM), intracellular reduced folates increased continuously without evidence of saturation in all cell lines; the pattern of accumulation was independent of the FPGS activity. l-FA enhanced 5-FU cytotoxicity by a factor of 1.9-6.4 in 12 of the 14 cell lines. In the 12 FA-sensitive cell lines, the l-FA concentrations allowing 90% of maximum 5-FU potentiation [l-FA]90 ranged between 0.7 and 107.9 micro M (median 1.9); in contrast, the intracellular concentrations of reduced folates allowing 90% of maximum 5-FU potentiation were much less variable (range 7.6-38.3, median 24.8 pmol/mg protein). In the presence of [l-FA]90, 5-FU sensitivity remained significantly correlated to the basal FPGS activity. In addition, reduced folates were measured in 96 tumoral samples (50 head and neck, 16 colon, 30 liver metastases from colorectal cancer) taken before treatment. Almost all investigated tumours had folate concentrations below the median concentration required for optimal 5-FU potentiation in vitro: median levels (range, pmol/mg protein) were 3.8 (0-17.7) for head and neck, 5.8 (2.3-12.0) for colon and 12.1 (1.7-118.5) for liver metastases. Above all, these data establish the relevance of FPGS activity for predicting the efficacy of 5-FU modulated by FA or not and point to the potential clinical interest of FPGS determination in human tumours.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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