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Br J Cancer. 1992 December; 66(6): 1053–1058.
PMCID: PMC1978042

Enhancement of the cytotoxicity of SR 4233 to normal and malignant tissues by hypoxic breathing.


The bioreductive cytotoxic agent SR 4233 (1,2,4-benzotriazine 3-amine 1,4-dioxide) has been shown to markedly potentiate the cell killing of mouse tumours when combined with fractionated radiation therapy. Differential metabolism under oxic compared to hypoxic conditions results in SR 4233 exhibiting selective cytotoxicity to hypoxic cells. This is thought to result from the production of a cytotoxic free radical which is generated predominantly in the absence of oxygen. We have examined a way of enhancing the effectiveness of this antitumour agent in vivo by artificially increasing the hypoxic fraction of tumours by hypoxic breathing. Mice are placed in a chamber containing 10% Oxygen 90% Nitrogen for 1 h after each administration of SR 4233. Our results in the SCCVII tumour model indicate that this manoeuvre results in a 10-fold increase in antitumour effectiveness of SR 4233 when administered in a fractionated regime with radiotherapy (8 x 2.5 Gy and 0.08 mmol kg-1), but not when a single treatment regime (1 x 20 Gy and 0.3 mmol kg-1) is used. Mathematical modelling of this effect is used to illustrate this phenomenon and can be used to predict the dependence of this type of therapy on the modification of tumour oxygenation.

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