The mitochondrial genetic system as a target for chemotherapy: tetracyclines as cytostatics

Cancer Lett. 1984 Nov;25(1):33-40. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3835(84)80023-3.


The mitochondrial genetic system is indispensable for the biosynthesis of the enzyme complexes involved in aerobic energy generation. Tetracyclines inhibit the expression of only the mitochondrial genes because they specifically block mitochondrial protein synthesis. A salient feature is that this inhibition occurs at the low concentration required for anti-bacterial treatment, provided that this concentration is maintained continuously. Evidence is presented that the growth of carcinogen-induced tumors can be inhibited by tetracyclines. It is further shown that the development in the cheek pouch of the Syrian hamster of a transplantable hypernephroma from human origin can be strongly retarded by tetracyclines as well. Therefore, the mitochondrial genetic system has to be reckoned as a target for chemotherapy and tetracyclines as cytostatic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy
  • Cricetinae
  • Doxycycline / administration & dosage
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Female
  • Genes / drug effects*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Mesocricetus
  • Methylnitrosourea
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Oxytetracycline / administration & dosage
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Tetracyclines / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Tetracyclines
  • Methylnitrosourea
  • Doxycycline
  • Oxytetracycline