Quinidine, which has antiarrhythmic activity, greatly enhanced the cytotoxicity of vincristine (VCR) in tumor cells and especially in VCR-resistant sublines of P388 leukemia (P388/VCR) and human myelogenous leukemia. A nontoxic concentration of quinidine increased VCR cytotoxicity in these resistant tumor cells about 50 to 80 times, and the drug in combination with VCR could completely reverse VCR resistance of these cell lines. Quinidine also enhanced the cytotoxicity of Adriamycin, especially in the Adriamycin-resistant subline of P388 leukemia; this enhancement (8-fold) was less than that of VCR toxicity in the VCR-resistant tumor line. When administered daily for 10 days with VCR, quinidine at doses of 50 to 125 mg/kg significantly enhanced the chemotherapeutic effect of VCR in P388/VCR-bearing mice. Some other antiarrhythmic agents also showed similar effects in vitro, but these effects were considerably lower than that of quinidine.

Quinidine increased the cellular levels of VCR and daunomycin in VCR-resistant sublines of mouse and human tumors and the ADM-resistant mouse tumor line in vitro, respectively. Quinidine also enhanced the cellular accumulation of VCR in P388/VCR cells in vivo. Thus, the therapeutic effect observed in P388/VCR-bearing mice might be due to the enhanced accumulation of VCR in P388/VCR cells by quinidine. The increase of cellular accumulation of VCR was partly explained by inhibition of efflux of VCR and daunomycin from the resistant tumor cells. The mechanism of this phenomenon is discussed in relation to previous findings on calcium channel blockers.

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This work was supported by grants-in-aid for cancer research from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture (57010075) and from the Ministry of Health and Welfare (57-3), Japan.

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