Endogenous thymidine and hypoxanthine are a source of error in evaluating methotrexate cytotoxicity by clonogenic assays using undialyzed fetal bovine serum

A. F. Sobrero, J. R. Bertino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

None of 13 fresh human tumor samples of various histology cloned in a two-layer agar culture system with 20% undialyzed fetal bovine serum (FBS) showed sensitivity to three antifolates, methotrexate (MTX), trimetrexate and 5,8-dideazaisofolic acid (IAHQ), even after continuous exposure to the highest concentrations (100 μM) for 21 days. In order to investigate this lack of antifolate drug effect, we compared the toxicity of continuous MTX exposure in the human colon carcinoma cell line HCT-8, cloned in a thymidine-less medium (RPMI 1640) supplemented with 10% horse serum (HS), 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS), 20% FBS or 20% dialyzed FBS. In the presence of native FBS, when the minimum clone size was set at 30 cells/colony, the survival of HCT-8 cells reached a plateau at approximately 60% of untreated control after exposure to MTX concentrations between 0.1 μM and 100 μM. Only when the minimum clone size was set at 2 x 103 cells/colony was the sensitivity of HCT-8 cells to the antimetabolite comparable to that obtained in HS or dialyzed FBS (ED50 values in the range of 0.01 μM). MTX protection experiments indicated that even very small concentrations of thymidine and hypoxanthine together were sufficient to reproduce the pattern of sensitivity to MTX observed under culture conditions with undialyzed FBS. We conclude that for a proper evaluation of MTX cytotoxicity in clonogenic assays, dialyzed FBS and thymidine-less media should be employed; if native FBS is an absolute requirement for growth, only very large colonies (at least 10 cell divisions) should be scored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-62
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Cell Cloning
Volume4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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