A melphalan-resistant human rhabdomyosarcoma xenograft, TE-671 MR, was established in athymic mice by serial melphalan treatment of the parent xenograft, TE-671, at the 10% lethal dosage (LD10); significant resistance was evident after ten passages of the tumor. TE-671 MR demonstrated a doubling time of 3.5 days and a latency period to 1000-mm3 tumors of 27.5 days. The glutathione level of TE-671 MR was 2.36 µmol/g tumor, wet weight, 2-fold higher than the parent line. The glutathione S-transferase activity of TE-671 MR was 117.8 µmol/min/mg protein, essentially unchanged from the parent line. Although TE-671 MR demonstrated cross-resistance to vincristine, dot blot analysis did not reveal an elevated expression of mdr1 mRNA in the resistant line. TE-671 MR demonstrated a 9.7-day growth delay following treatment with melphalan at the LD10 (compared to 20.9 days for the parent line). Treatment with l-buthionine-SR-sulfoximine (BSO) resulted in increased sensitivity to melphalan subsequently administered at 50% of the LD10 (melphalan alone, growth delays of 3.7 and 4.6 days in duplicate trials; melphalan plus BSO, growth delays of 7.2 and 9.8 days). Sensitivity to melphalan equal to that of the parent line TE-671 was not achieved, however. Treatment with BSO did not result in significantly enhanced sensitivity to subsequently administered vincristine (50% of the LD10) (vincristine alone, growth delays of 6.8 and 6.9 days in duplicate trials; vincristine plus BSO, growth delays of 10.9 and 7.5 days). These results suggest that generation of melphalan resistance may be associated with development of cross-resistance to vincristine; this resistance may be associated with (although not necessarily mediated by) glutathione elevation; this resistance may be partially overcome by BSO-mediated depletion of glutathione.

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Supported by NIH Grants CA11898, CA43722, CA44460, CA23099, DK26912, NS20023, and NS00958; ACS Grant CH403; and Bristol-Myers Grant 100-R18.

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