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BACKGROUND: DMXAA (5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid) is a new drug synthesized in this laboratory and currently in phase I clinical trial. In mice it acts as an antivascular drug, selectively inhibiting tumour blood flow and inducing tumour haemorrhagic necrosis with resultant tumour regression. It also induces the synthesis of tumour necrosis factor (TNF), nitric oxide and serotonin. Cyproheptadine, a type 2 serotonin receptor antagonist, is known to reduce the degree of tumour necrosis-induced TNF in mice. We investigated the pharmacological interaction between a suboptimal dose of DMXAA (20 mg/kg) and cyproheptadine (20 mg/ kg) using mice with Colon 38 tumours that are sensitive to DMXAA. METHODS: Mice with or without tumours were treated with DMXAA and/or cyproheptadine. Concentrations of plasma and tissue DMXAA and the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were measured by high performance liquid chromatography. TNF concentrations were measured by ELISA. RESULTS: While DMXAA alone (20 mg/kg) showed little or no antitumour activity, coadministration with cyproheptadine was curative in four of five mice. DMXAA half-lives in plasma and tumour tissue were increased 5.1- and 5.6-fold, respectively, and the appearance of DMXAA glucuronides in bile was almost completely inhibited for up to 4 h. Serum TNF was low and unchanged by cyproheptadine, and plasma concentrations of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid were also not substantially changed. CONCLUSION: The augmentation by cyproheptadine of the induction of tumour response to DMXAA reflects a pharmacological interaction, leading to increased plasma and tumour half-lives, and to reduced excretion. However, serum TNF concentrations were not increased, suggesting that the increased anti-tumour effects are mediated by an increased local tumour response, arising from the extended tumour DMXAA concentrations.


Journal article


Cancer chemother pharmacol

Publication Date





491 - 497


Animals, Antineoplastic Agents, Colonic Neoplasms, Cyproheptadine, Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor, Drug Synergism, Drug Therapy, Combination, Female, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Inbred DBA, Serotonin Antagonists, Tissue Distribution, Xanthenes, Xanthones