Teratogenic drugs inhibit tumour cell attachment to lectin-coated surfaces

Nature. 1979 Nov 29;282(5738):507-9. doi: 10.1038/282507a0.


Interactions between embryonic cells are generally thought to have a central role in the control of development. When these morphogenic interactions are interrupted by either physical intervention or genetic defects, normal development is impaired. In accord with these experiments, specific interactions between embryonic cells have been demonstrated in several in vitro systems. Many investigators have described homotypic aggregation of chick embryo cells, and heterotypic specificity has been described. Because of the importance of morphogenic cell-cell interactions in development it follows that agents that interfere with these interactions, regardless of the interference mechanism, are potential teratogens. Here we have used a simple in vitro cell to surface recognition system in an attempt to screen for potential teratogens. We have found a very high correlation between inhibitory activity in the in vitro assay and reported teratogenic activity in human or animal studies. This suggests that many teratogenic agents may act by interfering, in an as yet unknown way, in normal cell to cell interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion / drug effects*
  • Cell Line
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / pathology
  • Receptors, Concanavalin A / drug effects*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Teratogens / pharmacology*


  • Receptors, Concanavalin A
  • Teratogens