Chemotherapy agents and the induction of late lethal defects.
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Radiation is now known to be capable of producing both lethal and non lethal lesions in a variety of mammalian cells which may not be expressed for several cell divisions after the initial insult. The mechanism by which such an effect occurs is unknown. Because of the possible implications for cancer treatment, if such an effect also occurred following chemotherapy exposure, cells were exposed to various cytotoxic chemotherapy agents with known and well characterised effects on DNA or other areas of cell function or structure. The results indicate that late lethal defects are not detectable after treatment with appropriate ranges of doses of cisplatinum, vincristine, BCNU or adriamycin, but that they are induced by Bleomycin and to a lesser extent by 5-Fluorouracil. Bleomycin is known to cause strand breaks and is regarded as a radiomimetic agent. 5-Fluorouracil may act by preventing efficient and faithful synthesis of DNA, allowing mutations to become integrated into the genome. The occurrence of lethal mutations with both these agents supports previous suggestions that error-prone repair of DNA base sequence abnormalities may be fundamental to the process of late lethal damage production in mammalian cells. The cloning efficiency of cells which survived exposure to Vincristine or BCNU over a wide dose range was found to be significantly increased; this may represent an adaptive response to the drugs.
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