Ternary combination of irinotecan, fluorouracil-folinic acid and oxaliplatin: results on human colon cancer cell lines

Br J Cancer. 2001 Feb;84(4):579-85. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2000.1600.


A marked antitumour efficacy is currently obtained by oxaliplatin (LOHP)-fluorouracil (FU)-folinic acid (FA) combination and by CPT11-FU-FA combination. Logically, the triple association LOHP, CPT11 and FUFA will be soon tested in cancer patients. The aim of the present study was to compare two schedules combining SN38 (the active metabolite of CPT11, irinotecan) with FU-FA and LOHP. The two schedules differed by the SN38 position. The relative contribution of each drug in the resulting global cytotoxicity was evaluated. Two human colon cancer cell lines were used (WIDR and SW620 both p53 mutated). LOHP plus FA were applied for 2 h, just before a 48 h FU exposure. The SN38 sequence was applied for 24 h, starting either 48 h before LOHP-FA (schedule A), or just after LOHP-FA exposure (schedule B). Cytotoxicity was assessed by the 3-(4,5-demethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5 diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) test and drug interactions were analysed according to the Chou and Talalay method, based on the computation of a combination index (CI). The SN38 position significantly induces a shift from additivity-antagonism when SN38 was applied after LOHP, towards additivity-synergism when SN38 was applied first (P = 0.03). The relative contribution (RC) of each drug in the overall cytotoxicity of the triple combination was defined as the drug concentration giving 50% cell lethality (IC(50)) of the double association without that drug divided by the IC(50)of the triple association. Whatever the SN38 position, the larger contribution was made by LOHP (median RC = 2.4) and the smaller by SN38 (median RC = 1.1). In addition, the contribution of FUFA was improved when SN38 was applied first (median RC = 2.2) as compared to the opposite schedule (median RC = 1.2). Results were in agreement between the two explored cell lines. The present data should be taken into account when establishing the rationale of future trials combining CPT11, LOHP and FU-FA.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / pharmacology*
  • Camptothecin / administration & dosage
  • Camptothecin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Camptothecin / pharmacology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Fluorouracil / administration & dosage
  • Fluorouracil / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Irinotecan
  • Leucovorin / administration & dosage
  • Leucovorin / pharmacology*
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Organoplatinum Compounds
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Irinotecan
  • Leucovorin
  • Fluorouracil
  • Camptothecin