The Effect of an Amino Acid-lowering Diet on the Rate of Melphalan Entry into Brain and Xenotransplanted Glioma

Dennis R. Groothuis, Istvan Fekete, Kurt E. Schlageter, Peter Molnar

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Melphalan (L-phenylalanine mustard, L-PAM, alkeran; molecular weight, 305,000) is transported across tumor cell membranes and the blood-brain barrier by the large neutral amino acid (LNAA) transport system. Normally, plasma LNAA levels are high enough and the affinity low enough that this system does not transport much melphalan into the brain. However, plasma amino acids can be reduced by fasting and protein-free diet. We used this method to reduce competition and to increase melphalan transport into brain tumors. In nude mice fasted for 12 h and then fed a protein-free diet for 2 and 6 h, mean plasma LNAA levels were 46% and 42% of control values. Nude mice with xenotransplanted D-54MG humangliomas were used to study tissue distribution and uptake kinetics of [3H]melphalan in a control group and a diet group (after a 12-h fast and 2 h of a 0% protein diet). The Kx (blood-to-tissue transfer constant) of melphalan, determined by graphical analysis and by nonlinear fitting to a 2-compartment model, was higher in the diet group in all tumor regions except the necrotic center of subcutaneous tumors; the increase was significant in the tumor periphery of brain and s.c. tumors. The ratio of Kx% (diet to control) varied from 1.2 to 1.3 in brain tumors, 1.9 to 2.1 in subcutaneous tumors, and 1.8 to 3.1 in tumor-free brain. The apparent [3H]melphalan distribution space was significantly higher in the tumor periphery of both brain and subcutaneous tumors of the 15- and 30-min diet group. We also measured blood-brain barrier transport of [α-14C]aminoisobutyric acid and blood flow (with (,3II]iodoantipyrine): the Kx of [α-14C]aminoisobutyric acid was 28.1 ± 6.6 (SE) in brain tumors and 24.3 ± 8.9 pl/g/min in subcutaneous tumors. Blood flow was 58.2 - 3.9 in brain tumors and 5.2 ± 0.4 ml/100 g/min in subcutaneous tumors. Fasting, when combined with a protein-free diet, reduces plasma amino acid levels and thereby reduces competition between melphalan and LNAAs. This may increase the amount of melphalan that can enter a brain tumor without increasing the administered drug dose and suggests a therapeutic manipulation that can be used to increase the delivery of melphalan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5590-5596
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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