Because glucocorticoid hormones modulate various biological processes, the endogenous rhythm of their secretion is thought to be an important factor affecting the efficacy and/or toxicity of many drugs. Topoisomerase I (Topo I) is a nuclear target of the anticancer drug camptothecin (CPT). In this study, we demonstrate that Topo I expression in tumor-bearing mice and the efficacy of CPT on the tumor are affected by the 24-h variation in circulating glucocorticoid levels. A single administration of corticosterone (CORT) to the tumor-bearing mice resulted in a significant increase in Topo I mRNA levels not only in the tumor masses but also in other healthy tissues such as liver and skeletal muscle. The CORT-induced increase in Topo I mRNA was suppressed by pretreating the mice with RU486, a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist. Significant 24-h oscillations in the Topo I mRNA levels were observed in the tumor and healthy liver without exogenous CORT, and were eliminated by adrenalectomy of the mice. This result suggests that endogenous glucocorticoid hormones are involved in the circadian regulation of Topo I gene expression. Furthermore, the anti-tumor efficacy of the Topo I inhibitor CPT-11 on the tumor-bearing mice was enhanced by administering the drug at the time when the Topo I activity was increased. Our present results demonstrate that glucocorticoid is involved in the 24-h oscillation mechanism of Topo I gene expression and suggest that monitoring the circadian rhythm in Topo I activity is useful for choosing the most appropriate time of day to administer of Topo I inhibitors.
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