5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) induces a decrease in the number of peripheral leukocytes (leukopenia), which is one of the major obstacles in the chemotherapy of cancer. The number of peripheral leukocytes decreased by day 4 in mice injected i.p. with 130 mg/kg of 5-FU and recovered to the normal level by day 8. Such a decrease by 5-FU was prevented to some extent by the oral administration of 30 mg/kg/day of SPR-901. Proliferative responses of bone marrow cells to granulocyte/macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) or granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) were suppressed by 5-FU treatment and their recoveries were enhanced by SPR-901. The serum level of IL-6 in 5-FU-treated mice was increased by SPR-901. All of the mice treated with 300 mg/kg of 5-FU in combination with SPR-901 survived over 15 days, however, only 4 of 10 mice treated only with 300 mg/kg of 5-FU survived. These results suggest that SPR-901 acts on macrophages directly or indirectly, giving rise to the enhanced production of IL-1, IL-6, and other factors. Some of the factors derived from SPR-901 activated macrophages, perhaps mainly IL-6, act on the early stage of development of multipotent bone marrow progenitors synergistically with GM-CSF.
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