Resistance to methotrexate in SKOV-3 cell lines after chronic exposure to carbamazepine is associated with a decreased expression of folate receptor

Giuseppe Toffoli, Giuseppe Corona, Barbara Tolusso, Franca Sartor, Roberto Sorio, Enrico Mini, Mauro Boiocchi

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The detrimental effect of chronic administration of carbamazepine (CBZ) on serum and erythrocyte folates of patients has been extensively analyzed. However, at present, no data have been reported on the effect of CBZ on the intracellular content and activity of antimetabolite cytotoxic agents that can be used together with CBZ in the treatment of cancer patients. To investigate this issue, we chronically exposed in vitro the human ovarian cancer cell line SKOV-3 (grown under physiological folate concentrations) to CBZ, thus selecting SKOV-CBZ clones (SKOV-CBZ-50-2, SKOV-CBZ-50-5 and SKOV- CBZ-100-2) able to grow in the continuous presence of the antiepileptic drug. All of the SKOVCBZ clones were more resistant to methotrexate (MTX) than the parental cells. MTX resistance index, as determined by the ratio between MTX concentrations inhibiting cell growth by 50% (MTX IC50) in SKOV-CBZ clones and in the parental cells, ranged between 3- and 5-fold. This resistance was related to a reduced intracellular content of MTX. No alteration activity of the cellular enzymes directly involved in MTX cytotoxicity (dihydrofolate reductase, thymidylate synthase [TS] and folylpolyglutamate synthetase) was observed. SKOV-CBZ clones were cross-resistant to the TS inhibitors tomudex and CB3717, but not to the TS inhibitor 5-fluoro-deoxy uridine and other antineoplastic drugs (cisplatin, doxorubicin, vincristine and taxol), whose cellular uptake is derived from transmembrane transport mechanisms different from folate receptor α (FRα) or reduced folate carrier (RFC). FRα mRNA and protein levels were significantly lower in SKOV-CBZ clones than in the parental cells. The reduced level of FRα in SKOV-CBZ clones was associated with a decreased binding capacity of folic acid. No variation of mRNA RFC expression in the SKOV-CBZ clones as compared to the parental cells was observed. Thus, after chronic exposure to CBZ, SKOV-CBZ clones develop resistance towards MTX due to defective MTX uptake. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)683-690
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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