Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

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.

Original publication




Journal article


British journal of cancer

Publication Date





179 - 183


University Department of Surgery, Western Infirmary, Glasgow, UK.


Tumor Cells, Cultured, Animals, Rats, Inbred F344, Rats, Adenocarcinoma, Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental, Lung Neoplasms, Warfarin, Female, Neoplastic Stem Cells