Creatine (Cr) and cyclocreatine (cyCr) have been shown to inhibit the growth of a variety of human and murine tumours. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the anti-tumour effect of these molecules in relation to drug accumulation, energy metabolism, tumour water accumulation and toxicity. Nude mice carrying a human colon adenocarcinoma (LS174T) with a creatine kinase (CK) activity of 2.12 units mg−1 protein were fed Cr (2.5% or 5%) or cyCr (0.025%, 0.1% or 0.5%) for 2 weeks and compared with controls fed standard diet. Cr concentrations of 2.5% and 5% significantly inhibited tumour growth, as did 0.1% and 0.5% cyCr. In vivo 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) after 2 weeks of treatment showed an increase in [phosphocreatine (PCr)+phosphocyclocreatine (PcyCr)]/nucleoside triphosphate (NTP) with increasing concentrations of dietary Cr and cyCr, without changes in absolute NTP contents. The antiproliferative effect of the substrates of CK was not related to energy deficiency but was associated with acidosis. Intratumoral substrate concentrations (measured by 1H-MRS) of 4.8 μmol g−1 wet weight Cr (mice fed 2.5% Cr) and 6.2 μmol g−1 cyCr (mice fed 0.1% cyCr) induced a similar decrease in growth rate, indicating that both substrates were equally potent in tumour growth inhibition. The best correlant of growth inhibition was the total Cr or (cyCr+Cr) concentrations in the tissue. In vivo, these agents did not induce excessive water accumulation and had no systemic effects on the mice (weight loss, hypoglycaemia) that may have caused growth inhibition. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaig
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