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July 2002


Cimetidine increases survival of colorectal cancer patients with high levels of sialyl Lewis-X and sialyl Lewis-A epitope expression on tumour cells.

Cimetidine has been shown to have beneficial effects in colorectal cancer patients. In this study, a total of 64 colorectal cancer patients who received curative operation were examined for the effects of cimetidine treatment on survival and recurrence. The cimetidine group was given 800 mg day(-1) of cimetidine orally together with 200 mg day(-1) of 5-fluorouracil, while the control group received 5-fluorouracil alone. The treatment was initiated 2 weeks after the operation and terminated after 1 year. Robust beneficial effects of cimetidine were noted: the 10-year survival rate of the cimetidine group was 84.6% whereas that of control group was 49.8% (P < 0.0001). According to our previous observations that cimetidine blocked the expression of E-selectin on vascular endothelium and inhibited the adhesion of cancer cells to the endothelium, we have further stratified the patients according to the expression levels of sialyl Lewis antigens X (sL(x)) and A (sL(a)). We found that cimetidine treatment was particularly effective in patients whose tumour had higher sL(x) and sL(a) antigen levels. For example, the 10-year cumulative survival rate of the cimetidine group with higher CSLEX staining, recognizing sL(x) of tumours, was 95.5%, whereas that of the control group was 35.1% (P=0.0001). In contrast, in the group of patients with no or low levels CSLEX staining, cimetidine did not show significant beneficial effect (the 10-year survival rate of the cimetidine group was 70.0% and that of the control group was 85.7% (P=n.s.)). These results clearly indicate that cimetidine treatment dramatically improved survival in colorectal cancer patients with tumour cells expressing high levels of sL(x) and sL(a).

Br J Cancer 2002 Jan 21;86(2):161-7

Clinical improvement in advanced cancer disease after treatment combining histamine and H2-antihistaminics (ranitidine or cimetidine).

In a randomized study 31 patients with advanced cancer disease in whom classical anticancer therapy had been abandoned received a daily combination of subcutaneous histamine and oral H2-antihistaminics. In 27 patients, treatment induced a marked clinical improvement as shown by a large rise in performance status (Karnofsky scale). Ten patients were still alive 3-14 months after initiation of treatment. Average survival in the 31 treated patients (172 +/- 113 days) was significantly longer than in 34 non-treated patients with similar advanced cancer (26 +/- 16 days, P less than 0.00001). In six treated patients, the size of liver and lung metastases decreased. Histamine was perfectly tolerated up to 4 mg/day.

Eur J Cancer Clin Oncol 1988 Feb;24(2):161-7

Effect of cimetidine on survival after gastric cancer.

The effect of cimetidine on survival was investigated in 181 patients with gastric cancer. Immediately after operation or the decision not to operate, the patients were randomized in double-blind fashion to placebo or cimetidine 400 mg twice daily for two years or until death, with review every three months. Median survival in the cimetidine group was 450 days (range 1-1826) and in the placebo group 316 days (1-1653). The relative survival rates (cimetidine/placebo) were 45%/28% at 1 year, 22%/13% at 2 years, 13%/7% at 3 years, 9%/3% at 4 years, and 2%/0% at 5 years. Survival in the cimetidine group was significantly longer than in the placebo group.

Lancet 1988 Oct 29;2(8618):990-2

Prevention of alterations in postoperative lymphocyte subpopulations by cimetidine and ibuprofen.

Surgical procedures probably result in a temporary state of immunosuppression. Identification of functional lymphocyte subclasses using appropriate monoclonal antibodies appears to serve as a sensitive, accurate, and reproducible measure of immune status in patients in many disease states. Using monoclonal antibodies specific for lymphocyte surface markers and immunofluorescent assay, we quantitated lymphocyte subpopulations in patients undergoing surgical procedures. Cholecystectomy, colon surgery, and coronary bypass procedures all resulted in postoperative decreases in helper and inducer populations and increases in cytotoxic suppressor populations, with resultant depressions in the helper to suppressor lymphocyte ratio. Studies in an additional group of patients who underwent cholecystectomy demonstrated that these changes could be prevented by perioperative administration of ibuprofen and cimetidine. These results suggest that prostaglandins and histamines are involved in immunoregulatory events after major operation. The ability of specific pharmacologic therapy to prevent alterations in lymphocyte populations suggest that postoperative immunity may be preserved, hopefully leading to greater host resistance against infection and tumor dissemination.

Am J Surg 1986 Feb;151(2):249-55

Cimetidine preserves non-specific immune function after colonic resection for cancer.

Fifty consecutive patients undergoing resection of colorectal cancer were randomized to either receive cimetidine at a dose of 400 mg bd for a minimum of 5 pre-operative days, then intravenously for 2 postoperative days, or to act as controls. Baseline immune function was determined in all patients by in vitro testing of lymphocyte proliferation (LP) in response to mitogen, skin testing for cell mediated immunity (CMI) and measurement of lymphocyte subsets. Immune function was retested in both groups on the second postoperative day. In control patients the mean postoperative LP value was 41% of pre-operative levels (P < 0.0001) and the mean CMI reduced to 29% (P < 0.0001). Patients treated with cimetidine had no significant fall in these parameters. Numbers of T and natural killer (NK) cells fell after surgery in both groups, and B cell numbers were maintained in the cimetidine group. It is concluded that cimetidine reduces the immunosuppression that follows colonic resection.

Aust N Z J Surg 1994 Dec;64(12):847-52

The growth of carcinogen-induced colon cancer in rats is inhibited by cimetidine.

Colon cancer was induced in 40 Sprague Dawley rats using a 10-week course of 1,2 dimethylhydrazine (DMH). Twenty animals received cimetidine in their drinking water, commencing 5 weeks after concluding the course of DMH. After five weeks treatment of the animals were sacrificed and the colon and rectum excised. Tumours were assessed histologically for depth of invasion, inflammatory cell response and stained for Proliferating Cell Nuclear Antigen (PCNA), as a measure of tumour proliferative index. PCNA staining was measured using a computerized image analysis system. There were 25 tumours in the cimetidine treated group and 20 in controls. In the control group, 10% of the tumours were benign, 35% malignant polyps, 40% invading through submucosa and 15% invading through the bowel wall, as opposed to 40%, 44%, 8% and 8%, respectively in the cimetidine group (Chi squared test: P = 0.002). The mean proliferative index for control tumours was 27.9% and for the cimetidine tumours 23.1% t test: P = 0.002). It is concluded that cimetidine inhibits colon cancer cellular proliferation and slows early tumour invasion in this animal model.

Eur J Surg Oncol 1993 Aug;19(4):332-5

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