Serotonin involvement in the antitumour and host effects of flavone-8-acetic acid and 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid.
ABSTRACT The relationship of serotonin (5-HT) receptors to the action of the experimental antitumour drugs flavone-8-acetic acid (FAA) and 5,6-dimethylxanthenone-4-acetic acid (5,6-MeXAA) was studied. Both FAA and 5,6-MeXAA are known to induce the synthesis of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) and to stimulate nitric oxide synthesis in vivo, as measured by elevation of plasma nitrate. Serotonin potentiated the effect of a subtherapeutic dose of 5,6-MeXAA (20 mg/kg) as measured both by plasma nitrate increase and by growth delay of s.c. implanted colon 38 tumours. On the other hand, administration of the serotonin 5-hydroxytryptamine-2 (5-HT2) antagonist cyproheptadine (20 mg/kg) inhibited both the plasma nitrate response and, to a lesser extent, the induction of tumour haemorrhagic necrosis by 5,6-MeXAA, FAA and TNF. Reduction of circulating plasma serotonin by pre-treatment with p-chlorophenylalanine and reserpine reduced the plasma nitrate response, but not the tumour necrosis response, to 5,6-MeXAA (30 mg/kg). It is suggested that serotonin is necessary for the induction of nitric oxide synthases and acts, either directly or indirectly, in concert with TNF. Serotonin agonists may have utility in increasing nitric oxide synthesis in response to TNF or to agents that induce TNF as part of their antitumour action.