Differentiation-inducing effect of retinoic acid, difluoromethylornithine, sodium butyrate and sodium suramin in human colon cancer cells

Cancer Lett. 1998 Dec 11;134(1):53-60. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(98)00242-0.


We investigated the relative effectiveness of four differentiation-inducing chemicals to induce a more normal or benign phenotype in the human colon cancer cell lines Moser and HT29. The differentiation-inducing capability of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), difluoromethylornithine (DFMO), sodium butyrate (NaB) and sodium suramin (NaS) was evaluated in terms of the efficacy of these chemicals in inhibiting cellular proliferation, growth in soft agarose, invasion of matrigel and induction of morphological alteration. The relative ability of these chemicals to induce production of the differentiation-related molecules fibronectin and carcinoembryonic antigen was also determined. Overall, ATRA was found to be the most effective chemical in inducing differentiation as measured by these parameters. The Moser cells were more susceptible to differentiation induction by comparison with the HT29 cells. Both similarities and differences in the cellular responses to DFMO, NaB and NaS were also observed for the Moser and HT29 cells. The differences in cellular responses to these chemicals may be due to different phenotypic properties of these two cell lines and different mechanisms of action of these chemicals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Butyrates / pharmacology
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / biosynthesis
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Colonic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Eflornithine / pharmacology
  • Fibronectins / biosynthesis
  • Fibronectins / drug effects
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Suramin / pharmacology
  • Tretinoin / pharmacology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / cytology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Butyrates
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Fibronectins
  • Tretinoin
  • Suramin
  • Eflornithine