Comparative cytotoxicity of folate-based inhibitors of thymidylate synthase and 5-fluorouracil ± leucovorin in MGH-U1 cells

Charles Erlichman, Biserka Mitrovski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Thymidylate synthase (TS) is a critical enzyme in the synthesis of DNA and an important target for cancer chemotherapy. 5-Fluorouracil (5FU) combined with leucovorin (LV) has been used to inhibit TS, and inhibition is dependent on the formation of a ternary complex between a folate cofactor, TS, and 5-fluorodeoxyuridine monophosphate (FdUMP), a metabolite of FU. The folate-based TS inhibitors CB3717, its analogs, and BW1843U89 have been synthesized as specific inhibitors of TS that do not require activation or the presence of a cofactor. We have compared the cytotoxicity of 5FU ± LV with that of these folate-based TS inhibitors in human bladder cancer MGH-U1 cells using a colony-forming assay. After a 6-h exposure, FU+LV, CB3717, dCB3717, or C2 methyl dideazafolate analogs demonstrated similar cytotoxic potency that was 0.96 to 2.9 times that of 5FU alone. A 24-h exposure did not increase the potency of 5FU+LV relative to 5FU alone, but there was a marked increase in the cytotoxicity of the dideazafolates as compared with 5FU+LV. Similarly, BW1843U89 was more cytotoxic than 5FU+LV. This was reflected in a 3.2- to 1333-fold decrease in the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50). Simultaneous exposure to LV and thymidine (TdR) protected MGH-U1 cells from the cytotoxicity of CB3717, its analogs, and BW1843U89. We conclude that (a) the folate-based TS inhibitors are more potent than 5FU+LV after a 24-h exposure, (b) protection by LV and TdR indicates that TS inhibition is the primary site of action, and (c) BW1843U89 is more potent than D1694 in MGH-U1 cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-56
Number of pages6
JournalCancer chemotherapy and pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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