The Relationships Between Glutathione, glutathione-S-transferase and Cytotoxicity of Platinum Drugs and Melphalan in Eight Human Ovarian Carcinoma Cell Lines

Br J Cancer. 1991 Aug;64(2):215-20. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1991.279.


The role of glutathione (GSH) and GSH-S-transferase (GST) activity in modulating the cytotoxicity of four platinum drugs and melphalan was evaluated in eight human ovarian carcinoma cell lines. The cell lines were established from solid and ascitic tumours from pretreated and untreated patients, and showed a wide spectrum of sensitivity to several platinum II and platinum IV drugs; cisplatin, carboplatin, CHIP and tetraplatin. Intracellular glutathione concentration measured in the cell lines showed a significant (P = 0.05) correlation with IC50 values for cisplatin (r = 0.91), carboplatin (r = 0.87) and CHIP (r = 0.88). The correlation between GSH levels and IC50 values for melphalan (r = 0.76) or tetraplatin (r = 0.60) was not as significant. GST activity showed no correlation with IC50 values, for the four platinum drugs. To determine the significance of the elevated GSH concentration in the refractory cell lines, the effect of D,L-buthionine-S, R-sulfoximine (BSO) mediated GSH depletion on platinum drug cytotoxicity was examined in one of the most sensitive (CH1) and two of the least sensitive (relatively resistant; SKOV-3, HX/62) cell lines. Comparison was made with the effect of GSH depletion on melphalan cytotoxicity in these three lines. These lines were differentially sensitive to BSO, with the two most platinum drug resistant lines being more tolerant to BSO than the sensitive CH1 line. Depletion of cellular GSH, ranging between 61 and 88%, had a differential effect on the sensitivity to PtII vs PtIV drugs in the three cell lines: cytotoxicity of the PtIV drugs, tetraplatin and CHIP, was substantially enhanced in both the resistant and sensitive cell lines; in contrast, the cytotoxicity of the PtII drugs, cisplatin and carboplatin, was only significantly increased in one of the two relatively resistant lines (SKOV-3) and in the sensitive (CH1) line after GSH depletion. Moreover the dose modification factor (DMF) for the PtII agents were lower than those for PtIV agents in the three cell lines. The dose modification factor for tetraplatin after BSO treatment was similar to that observed for melphalan in all three cell lines. In the SKOV-3 cell line extending the BSO pretreatment period to 48 h from 24 h marginally reduced the cytotoxicity of cisplatin, whereas the cytotoxicity of the other three drugs remained similar to that observed after 24 h BSO pretreatment. In contrast, extending the BSO treatment to 24 h after drug exposure potentiated the cytotoxicity of cisplatin, CHIP and tetraplatin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carboplatin / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line
  • Cisplatin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cisplatin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Melphalan / therapeutic use*
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Organoplatinum Compounds
  • iproplatin
  • Carboplatin
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Glutathione
  • Cisplatin
  • Melphalan
  • ormaplatin