Recombinant desulfatohirudin (r-hirudin), a highly specific inhibitor of thrombin, was examined to determine whether it would inhibit production of experimental lung metastasis by B16-F10 melanoma cells. In in vitro assays using mouse plasma, the high level of procoagulant activity in B16-F10 cells was significantly inhibited by r-hirudin in a dose-dependent manner. From 15 to 120 min after s.c. administration into C57BL/6 mice, r-hirudin (10 mg/kg) markedly prolonged clotting time in a time course pattern that directly correlated with that of blood distribution of 125I-labeled r-hirudin. The production of experimental lung metastasis by B16-F10 cells was significantly inhibited by r-hirudin administered s.c. at time points ranging from 120 min before to 60 min after tumor cell inoculation with the most significant effects found in mice given r-hirudin 15 or 2 min before the i.v. injection of tumor cells. The organ distribution of [125I]IdUrd-labeled tumor cells demonstrated a clear difference in the lungs of mice treated with r-hirudin and the lungs of control mice, and these differences directly correlated with the number of lung tumor colonies found 3 weeks later. The inhibition of lung metastasis was not due to direct antitumor effects of r-hirudin. These results suggest that inhibition of coagulation events by r-hirudin significantly inhibit experimental lung metastasis during a critical time of 60 min after the entry of tumor cells into the circulation.

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Supported in part by Grant R35-CA 42107 from the National Cancer Institute, NIH, and funds from Ciba-Geigy, Ltd.

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