Alkylating agents can be administered in high dosage to patients with ovarian cancer using autologous bone marrow support, but drug-resistant tumor cells can still persist. Immunotoxins provide reagents that might eliminate drug resistant cells. In the present study, concurrent treatment with alkylators and immunotoxins proved superior to treatment with each agent alone. Toxin immunoconjugates prepared from different monoclonal antibodies and recombinant ricin A chain (rRTA) inhibited clonogenic growth of ovarian cancer cell lines in limiting dilution assays. When alkylating agents and toxin conjugates were used in combination, the addition of the immunotoxins to cisplatin, or to cisplatin and thiotepa, produced synergistic cytotoxic activity against the OVCA 432 and OVCAR III cell lines.
Studies performed to clarify the mechanism of action showed that cisplatin and thiotepa had no influence on internalization and binding of the 317G5-rRTA immunotoxin. Intracellular uptake of sup (195m) Pt-cisplatin was not affected by the immunoconjugate and thiotepa. The combination of the 317G5-rRTA and thiotepa, as well as 317G5-rRTA alone, increased sup (195m) Pt cisplatin-DNA adduct levels. The immunotoxin alone and in combination with the alkylators decreased intracellular glutathione levels and reduced glutathione-S-transferase activity. Repair of DNA damage induced by the combination of alkylators and 317G5-rRTA was significantly reduced when compared to repair after damage with alkylators alone. These findings suggest that immunotoxins affect levels and activity of enzymes required for the prevention and repair of alkylator damage. (J. Clin. Invest. 1993. 92:2440-2447.) Key words: cisplatin. ovarian neoplasms. immunoconjugates. drug synergy