We have investigated the effect of extracellular ATP on tumour-cell proliferation and GSH levels in Ehrlich-ascites-tumour-bearing mice. After daily administration of exogenous ATP (1 mmol/kg) during 7 days, we found a 56% inhibition of tumour growth, precisely when controls show the highest rates of cell proliferation and the highest levels of GSH. This effect is accompanied by a decrease in GSH content in the tumour, but not in normal tissues. The decrease in GSH concentration within the cancer cells is associated with a decrease in gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase activity and in protein synthesis. Growth inhibition is mediated by generation of extracellular adenosine, which subsequently increases intracellular levels of ATP and decreases intracellular levels of UTP in the cancer cells. Our results suggest that inhibition of tumour growth by ATP is due to an adenosine-dependent pyrimidine starvation effect.
- © 1994 The Biochemical Society, London