The effect of difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), a specific inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase activity, was evaluated in vivo and in vitro on the growth of a gastrin-sensitive human colon carcinoma (WiDr). In vivo, mice bearing the tumor treated with pentagastrin had larger tumors with higher ornithine decarboxylase activity and polyamine content (P<0.05) than mice not treated with pentagastrin. Difluoromethylornithine treatment significantly decreased ornithine decarboxylase in both the pentagastrin-treated and the untreated animals; however, DFMO had no effect on tumor volume, weight, protein, or DNA content. In cell culture, gastrin treatment increased WiDr cell number and [3H]thymidine incorporation in the presence or absence of serum. In serum-free conditions, however, gastrin stimulated cell growth without concomitantly increasing ODC activity. DFMO, on the other hand, decreased both ODC activity and growth. These studies suggest that the trophic effect of gastrin on WiDr human colon cancer is independent of ODC activity. Since gastrin treatment increased ODC activity in vivo, gastrin may interact in vitro with other factors present in serum that can alter ODC activity.
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