The effect of polyamine depletion on the cell kill caused by the cell cycle-specific agents vincristine (VCR) and methotrexate (MTX) was studied in 9L rat brain tumor cells in vitro using a colony-forming efficiency assay as the experimental end point. The cell kill produced by a 24-hr treatment with VCR or MTX was decreased in 9L cells pretreated with 1 mm α-difluoromethylornithine, an irreversible inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase. Reversal of the α-difluoromethylornithine-induced polyamine depletion with 1 mm exogenous putrescine prevented the decrease in VCR and MTX cytotoxicity. After a 48-hr treatment with 1 mm α-difluoromethylornithine, the number of mitotic cells in asynchronously growing 9L cell cultures was reduced markedly. The decreased cell kill of VCR and MTX appeared to be the result of polyamine depletion-induced inhibition of 9L cell cycle traverse, which reduced the number of cells in drug-sensitive phases of the cell cycle and thereby reduced the cell kill caused by the drugs.

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Supported by NIH Program Grant CA-13525 and the Andres Soriano Cancer Research Fund.

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