Estramustine (EM) and taxol, two antimicrotubule agents with distinct and apparently opposing mechanisms of action, were found to be effective in combination in the preclinical treatment of EM-resistant and sensitive, wild-type human prostatic carcinoma cell lines. Estramustine combined with 1 nm taxol (concentration 100-fold less than that measured in plasma of patients treated with taxol) produced greater than additive effects on the inhibition of cell survival of both wild-type and EM-resistant cells. When taxol was used with another microtubule-destabilizing drug, vinblastine, no significantly increased cytotoxicity was observed. Other effects on wild-type and EM-resistant cells produced by the combination of EM and taxol included (a) an increased proportion of the cells in the S phase of the cell cycle; (b) no mitotic block; and (c) an increase in the percentage of micronucleated cells from a control value of <1% to >20% after drug treatment. Immunofluorescent microscopic analysis of the effect of this drug combination on the mitotic spindle apparatus revealed specific examples of aberrant mitotic figures, including multiple asters, cells with two distinct spindles, and tripolar spindles able to traverse mitosis and complete cytokinesis. These data provide supportive preclinical evidence for the potential development of an EM/taxol combination clinical regimen either for prostate or other cancers.


Supported by Grant 5R01 CA 43783-07 and NIH Grant CA-09035-16. Partial support also provided by a Bristol-Squibb drug resistance grant.

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