Hepsulfam Sensitivity in Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines: The Role of Glutathione and Glutathione 5-Transferase in Resistance

Deborah K. Armstrong, Gary B. Gordon, John Hilton, Robert T. Streeper, O. Michael Colvin, Nancy E. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Hepsulfam (NSC 329680,1,7-heptanediol disulfamate) is an alkylating agent that showed excellent activity against mouse and human mammary carcinoma in preclinical studies. We therefore studied the cytotoxicity of this drug in six human breast cancer cell lines (AdrRMCF7, WTMCF7, Hs578T, MDA-MB-231, T47D, and MDA-MB-468). Clonogenic assays of these cell lines showed a range of sensitivity with the 90% inhibitory concentration ranging from 3.1 MM hepsulfam (MDA-MB-468) to 323 MM hepsulfam (AdrRMCF7) after 24-h exposure to the drug. To evaluate possible mechanisms responsible for this observed variation in sensitivity to hepsulfam, we have studied glutathione 5-transferase (GST) activity and glutathione (GSH) in these cell lines. Total cytoplasmic GST activity correlated with sensitivity; the most sensitive cell lines had the lowest GST activity, while the two most resistant cell lines, Adr*MCF7 and Hs578T, had the highest GST levels of the six cell lines. Western blot analysis showed that the only detectable isoenzyme was GST-r. The amount of GST-r isoform correlated with hepsulfam sensitivity in the three most resistant cell lines and was undetectable in the three most sensitive cell lines. Cellular concentrations of GSH did not correlate with hepsulfam sensitivity. However, GSH depletion with buthionine sulfoximine increased sensitivity to hepsulfam in a dose-dependent fashion in all six cell lines. Evaluation by mass spectrometry revealed that glutathione can form conjugates with hepsulfam. We conclude that the GST/GSH detoxication system plays a role in the sensitivity of these breast cancer cell lines to hepsulfam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1416-1421
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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