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Using growth delay and clonogenic cell survival as end points, we have shown that the 3-dimensional structure of human lung tumour spheroids confers a degree of resistance to the anthracyclines adriamycin and 4'-deoxydoxorubicin, relative to cells grown as monolayer. 4'-deoxydoxorubicin induces a longer growth delay and greater clonogenic cell kill than adriamycin in spheroids, although it is no more cytotoxic in monolayer (exponential and plateau phase). There is a log linear relationship between clonogenic cell survival and duration of adriamycin exposure in monolayers, and biphasic curve with a lesser degree of cell kill for disaggregated spheroid cells. Using fluorescent microscopy we have demonstrated, qualitatively, that the more lipophilic analogue partitions into the spheroid more rapidly and to a greater degree than adriamycin. It is possible that adriamycin penetration is a relatively important aspect of spheroid drug resistance, which may be related to intraspheroidal pH gradients, and that we have partially overcome this by using a lipophilic analogue.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





423 - 429


Cell Survival, Cells, Cultured, Doxorubicin, Humans, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Lung Neoplasms, Time Factors