The role of the thiol N-acetylcysteine in the prevention of tumor invasion and angiogenesis

M. Morini, T. Cai, M. G. Aluigi, D. M. Noonan, L. Masiello, S. De Flora, F. D'Agostini, A. Albini, G. Fassina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have extensively studied the effects of N-acetylcysteine (NAC), a cytoprotective drug that can prevent in vivo carcinogenesis. Here we review our findings NAC completely inhibits gelatinolytic activity of metalloproteases and chemotactic and invasive activities of tumor cells. In addition, NAC reduces the number of lung metastases when malignant murine melanoma cells are injected into nude mice. NAC treatment decreases the weight of primary tumors and produces a dose-related increase in tumor latency. Moreover, oral administration of NAC reduces the formation of spontaneous metastases. In experimental metastasis assays, we have found a synergistic reduction in the number of lung metastases after treatment with doxorubicin (DOX) and NAC in nude mice. In tumorigenicity and spontaneous metastasis assays, the combined administration of DOX and oral NAC again has shown synergistic effects on the frequency and weight of primary tumors and local recurrences and completely prevented the formation of lung metastases. The addition of NAC to endothelial cells strongly reduces their invasive activity in response to angiogenic stimuli. NAC inhibited the degradation and release of radiolabeled type IV collagen by activated endothelial cells, indicating that NAC blocks gelatinase activity. Oral administration of NAC reduces the angiogenic response induced by KS tumor cell products, confirming the ability of NAC to inhibit the invasive activity of endothelial cells in vivo and thereby blocking angiogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-271
Number of pages4
JournalInternational Journal of Biological Markers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


  • Angiogenesis
  • Doxorubicin
  • Endothelial cells
  • Invasion
  • Migration
  • NAC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry


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