The in vitro cytotoxicity of aziridinylbenzoquinone (AZQ) used either alone or after induced intracellular polyamine depletion in 9L rat brain tumor cells was studied using a colony-forming efficiency assay. Used alone, AZQ was cytotoxic to 9L cells; however, depletion of intracellular putrescine and spermidine levels by treatment with 1 mm α-difluoromethylomithine, an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase, for 72 hr decreased significantly the cytotoxicity of AZQ. Dose modification factors were 1.9 and 1.8 at 10 and 1% survival levels, respectively. Decreased cytotoxicity could be almost completely prevented by addition of putrescine to polyamine-depleted cells 24 hr before AZQ treatment.

Although AZQ alone was cytotoxic against 9L cells, metabolic activation by the S-9 rat liver microsomal fraction increased greatly the observed cytotoxicity. However, even with microsomal activation, pretreatment of cells with 1 mm α-difluoromethylomithine for 48 hr produced a significant decrease in AZQ cytotoxicity; dose modification factors were 2.4 and 2.2 at 10 and 1% survival levels, respectively. Addition of putrescine to polyamine-depleted cells 24 hr before AZQ treatment prevented the decrease in cytotoxicity.

Pretreatment of 9L cells for 48 hr with 40 µm methylglyoxal bis(guanylhydrazone), a polyamine biosynthesis inhibitor that competitively inhibits S-adenosylmethionine decarboxylase, caused a decrease in the cytotoxicity of AZQ administered without microsomal activation. The dose modification factor was 1.6 at both 10 and 1% survival levels.


This research was supported by NIH Program Project Grant CA-13525 and the Soriano Cancer Research Fund.

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