Neoplastic transformation of human diploid fibroblast cells by chemical carcinogens

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1978 Mar;75(3):1334-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.75.3.1334.


Cultured fibroblast cells derived from a skin biopsy sample taken from normal human adult were exposed to a potent carcinogen, 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide. Alterations of cell growth pattern such as higher density and piling up of cells were noticed in some fractions of cultures that were successively subcultured after nitroquinoline oxide treatment. Morphologically altered cells retained this growth pattern and became established lines of transformed cells without showing the limited life-span characteristic of normal cells in culture. The transformed cells showed a higher saturation density and the ability to grow in soft agar, properties that are usually correlated with neoplastic transformation of cells in culture. Selection of preexisting transformed human cells as a mechanism of this observed transformation seemed unlikely because clones of these normal cells could also be used to assess the transforming effect of nitroquinoline oxide. Preliminary results suggest that numerous cell divisions were required for the development of the transformation after nitroquinoline oxide treatment of these human cells. When the transformed cell lines were injected subcutaneously into nude (athymic) mice, solid tumors were produced at the site of inoculation. Treatment with N-methyl-N'-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine also induced cell transformation, in a manner similar to treatment with nitroquinoline oxide. However, transformation was not induced with (i) 4-aminoquinoline 1-oxide (a noncarcinogenic derivative of 4-nitroquinoline 1-oxide), (ii) 3-methylcholanthrene (a carcinogen that cannot be metabolically activated by the target cells employed), or (iii) the solvent dimethyl sulfoxide.

MeSH terms

  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemically induced*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Contact Inhibition
  • Humans
  • Methylnitronitrosoguanidine
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / etiology


  • Carcinogens
  • Methylnitronitrosoguanidine
  • 4-Nitroquinoline-1-oxide