Moderate body deuteration combined with a cytostatic drug [methotrexate (MTX)] significantly increases the survival time of young adult DBA/2 mice bearing transplantable P815, L5178Y, or L1210 tumors. Neoplastic cells were grown in vitro from tumor stock and injected i.p. into mice from two groups, one drinking tap water, the other drinking 30% heavy water in tap water. One-half of the animals in each of these two groups was given a single injection of MTX (4 mg/kg body weight) on 3 consecutive days per week. At death, extension of primary and metastatic tumors was examined and was found to be macro- and microscopically comparable in the corresponding groups. The mean survival time of untreated mice drinking tap water was about 2 weeks following injection of the fast-growing P815, L5178Y, or L1210 (V) tumors and approximately 5 weeks after injection of cells from a slower-growing L1210 subline. Body deuteration alone roughly doubled the survival time solely of mice bearing this L1210 subline. Treatment with MTX approximately doubled the mean survival time of hosts bearing one of the fast-growing tumors. Combined treatment with heavy water and MTX increased the mean survival time of the mice in all groups by 15 to 125% as compared to control values. The reasons for this effect are unknown. However, heavy water has been shown to exert antimitotic activity and to depress the incorporation of radioactive precursors into DNA of proliferating mammalian cells. The depression of antibody formation following antigenic stimulation and the reduction in numbers of nonneoplastic lymphoid cells of mice following moderate body deuteration may have contributed to the enhancement of MTX activity in addition to other effects of deuterium.


This study was supported by the Swiss Science Foundation (Grant and the Swiss Cancer League (FOR. 121.AK.78-1).

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