Warfarin inhibits metastasis of Mtln3 rat mammary carcinoma without affecting primary tumour growth.
McCulloch P., George WD.
Coumarin anticoagulants inhibit metastasis in several animal models, but the mechanism of this effect is uncertain. In order to determine the role of cytotoxic and/or cytostatic actions of coumarins on the tumour cells, we have studied the effects of warfarin on tumour cell growth in a model in which tumour metastasis is inhibited by this drug. Clonogenic assay, growth curve analysis and thymidine labelling index revealed that warfarin had no effects on Mtln3 mammary carcinoma cell growth in vitro at concentrations below 1 mM. The growth rate of subcutaneously implanted Mtln3 tumour deposits in female F344 rats, assessed by weight and by stathmokinetic analysis of the tumour tissue, was identical in warfarin-treated and control animals. Spontaneous metastasis from such tumours to the lungs was, however, significantly reduced in warfarin-treated animals (median 0 pulmonary tumours per animal in warfarin treated, eight tumours per animal in control animals; P less than 0.05, Mann-Whitney). The mean plasma warfarin concentration in warfarin treated rats was 1.63 microM. These results suggest that warfarin treatment of the host animal can inhibit tumour metastasis without having any direct or indirect effect on the growth rate of the tumour cells.