noThe plant derived indoloquinoline alkaloid cryptolepine was investigated for its cytotoxic properties in 12 human tumour cell lines and in primary cultures of tumour cells from patients. The fluorometric microculture cytotoxicity assay was used to assess cytotoxicity and DNA mocro-array analysis to evaluate gene expression. Cryptolepine mean IC50 in the cell line panel was 0.9 microM compared with 1.0 and 2.8 microM in haemaotological and solid tumour malignancies respectively. Among patient solid tumour samples, those from breast cancer were the most sensitive and essentially as sensitive as haematological malignancies, respectively. Among patient solid tumour samples, those from breast cancer were the most sensitive and essentially as senstive as haematological malignancies. Cryptolepine activity showed highest correlations to topoisomerase II and microtubule targetting drugs. In the cell lines cryptolepine activity was essentially unaffected by established mechanisms of drug resistance. A number of genes were identified as associated with cryptolepine activity. In conclusion, cryptolepine shows interesting in vitro cytotoxic properties and its further evaluation as an anticancer drug seems warranted
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