• 5-fluorouracil;
  • consensus interferon;
  • dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase;
  • reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction;
  • WST-1

Abstract: Background/Aims: The effectiveness of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) treatment is influenced by the activities of pyrimidine catabolic enzymes. The aim of this study was to investigate whether interferon (IFN)-α influences expression of 5-FU catabolic or target-related enzymes in human hepatoma cells.

Methods: HepG2 cells were treated with 0, 0.15, 1.5, 15, and 150 ng/ml of consensus interferon (C-IFN). Expression of mRNAs encoding dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), thymidine phosphorylase, and thymidylate synthase was examined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction before and after C-IFN treatment. To determine the effect of pretreatment with C-IFN on 5-FU+C-IFN combination therapy, we performed WST-1 cell proliferation assays.

Results: A significant reduction in the level of DPD mRNA was observed when HepG2 cells were pretreated with C-IFN (P<0.05). This reduction occurred in a time-dependent manner. Cell proliferation was reduced most significantly when HepG2 cells were treated with 5-FU and C-IFN. Furthermore, when cells were pretreated with C-IFN for 3 days, the anti-proliferative effect of 5-FU+C-IFN combination therapy was augmented significantly (P<0.05).

Conclusions: C-IFN likely improves the anti-tumor effect of 5-FU via downregulation of DPD enzyme in hepatoma cells. Pretreatment with C-IFN may increase the anti-cancer effect of 5-FU+C-IFN combination therapy.