Background: Artemisinin selectively kills cancer cells which have more intracellular free iron than do normal cells. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO(2)) may be beneficial in the treatment of cancer. The hypothesis of this study was that HBO(2) enhances anticancer activity of artemisinin.
Materials and methods: After pretreatment with 12 μM holotransferrin, Molt-4 human leukemia cells were cultured in 10 μM artemisinin and exposed for 90 min to one of three different conditions: control, room air control, and HBO(2). Cell growth was determined for 48 h after exposure.
Results: Differences in growth were noted after 6 h of incubation. After 48 h of incubation, growth of cells treated with artemisinin alone or HBO(2) alone was 85% of that of cells grown under artemisinin-free control conditions. Combined artemisinin and HBO(2) treatment resulted in an additional 22% decrease in growth.
Conclusion: Combined HBO(2) and artemisinin exposure may be an effective anticancer chemotherapeutic strategy.