Morphologic and phenotypic changes of human neuroblastoma cells in culture induced by cytosine arabinoside

M. Ponzoni, M. Lanciotti, A. Melodia, A. Casalaro, P. Cornaglia-Ferraris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The effects of cytosine-arabinoside (ARA-C) on the growth and phenotypic expression of a new human neuroblastoma (NB) cell line (GI-ME-N) have been extensively tested. Low doses of ARA-C allowing more than 90% cell viability induce morphological differentiation and growth inhibition. Differentiated cells were larger and flattened with elongated dendritic processes; such cells appeared within 48 h after a dose of ARA-C as low as 0.1 μ/ml (about 1000-fold lower than the conventional clinic dose). The new morphological aspect reached the maximum expression after 5-6 days of culture being independent from the addition of extra drug to the culture. A decrease in [3H]thymidine incorporation was also observed within 24 h and the cell growth was completely inhibited on the sixth day. Moreover, ARA-C strongly inhibited anchorage-independent growth in soft agar assay. Membrane immunofluorescence showed several dramatic changes in NB-specific antigen expression after 5 days of treatment with ARA-C. At the same time ARA-C also modulated cytoskeletal proteins and slightly increased catecholamine expression. These findings suggest that noncytotoxic doses of ARA-C do promote the differentiation of GI-ME-N neuroblastoma cells associated with reduced expression of the malignant phenotype.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-237
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Cell Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology

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