Gemcitabine and paclitaxel are active agents in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To optimize treatment drug combinations, simultaneously and 4 and 24 h intervals, were studied using DNA flow cytometry and multiple drug effect analysis in the NSCLC cell lines H460, H322 and Lewis Lung. All combinations resulted in comparable cytotoxicity, varying from additivity to antagonism (combination index: 1.0-2.6). Gemcitabine caused a S (48%) and G1 (64%) arrest at IC-50 and 10 x IC-50 concentrations, respectively. Paclitaxel induced G2/M arrest (70%) which was maximal within 24 h at 10 x IC-50. Simultaneous treatment increased S-phase arrest, while at the 24 h interval after 72 h the first drug seemed to dominate the effect. Apoptosis was more pronounced when paclitaxel preceded gemcitabine (20% for both intervals) as compared to the reverse sequence (8%, P = 0.173 for the 4 h and 12%, P = 0.051 for the 24 h time interval). In H460 cells, paclitaxel increased 2-fold the accumulation of dFdCTP, the active metabolite of gemcitabine, in contrast to H322 cells. Paclitaxel did not affect deoxycytidine kinase levels, but ribonucleotide levels increased possibly explaining the increase in dFdCTP. Paclitaxel did not affect gemcitabine incorporation into DNA, but seemed to increase incorporation into RNA. Gemcitabine almost completely inhibited DNA synthesis in both cell lines (70-89%), while paclitaxel had a minor effect and did not increase that of gemcitabine. In conclusion, various gemcitabine-paclitaxel combinations did not show sequence dependent cytotoxic effects; all combinations were not more than additive. However, since paclitaxel increased dFdCTP accumulation, gemcitabine incorporation into RNA and the apoptotic index, the administration of paclitaxel prior to gemcitabine might be favourable as compared to reversed sequences.
Copyright 2000 Cancer Research Campaign.