Annals of Surgical Oncology

, 10:910 | Cite as

Telomerase Inhibition Using Azidothymidine in the HT-29 Colon Cancer Cell Line

  • Tommy BrownEmail author
  • Elin Sigurdson
  • Andre Rogatko
  • Dominique Broccoli
Original Articles


Background: We investigated the effects of telomerase inhibition by using the reverse transcriptase inhibitor azidothymidine (AZT) in the human colorectal cancer cell line HT-29 in the presence and absence of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU).

Methods: HT-29 cells were cultured in the presence of AZT. Telomerase activity was measured by using the telomerase repeat amplification protocol. Telomere length was determined by Southern analysis. The colorimetric microtiter assay was performed to determine the cytotoxic effects of AZT, alone and in combination with 5-FU.

Results: The presence of 3′-azido-3′-deoxythymidine triphosphate (AZT-TP) effectively inhibited telomerase extracted from HT-29 cells. HT-29 cells cultured with 125 μM of AZT underwent fewer total population doublings over 91 days. Southern analysis revealed that telomere attrition occurred within this period. Exposure to 125 μM of AZT resulted in slightly reduced viability (10%) of HT-29 cells. However, the presence of AZT increased 5-FU cytotoxicity, suggesting that the effects of these two drugs are synergistic.

Conclusions: The data are consistent with telomerase inhibition having growth-inhibitory effects in addition to those predicted to accompany loss of telomere function. Further studies using specific small-molecule inhibitors will confirm whether the growth-inhibitory and 5-FU–sensitivity effects seen here are a direct result of telomerase inhibition.

Key Words

Telomerase AZT HT-29 colon cancer cell line Telomere 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Oncology, Inc. 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tommy Brown
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  • Elin Sigurdson
    • 1
  • Andre Rogatko
    • 2
  • Dominique Broccoli
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Surgical OncologyFox Chase Cancer CenterPhiladelphia
  2. 2.Department of BiostatisticsFox Chase Cancer CenterPhiladelphia
  3. 3.Department of Medical OncologyFox Chase Cancer CenterPhiladelphia
  4. 4.Philadelphia

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