Cimetidine inhibits in vivo growth of human colon cancer and reverses histamine stimulated in vitro and in vivo growth.

The effect of histamine and cimetidine on the growth of four human colon cancer cell lines was studied. Histamine significantly stimulated the uptake of tritiated thymidine in vitro in a dose dependent manner, to a maximum of 120% and 116% of controls for C170 and LIM2412, respectively. This effect was antagonised by cimetidine, but not diphenhydramine. Histamine also stimulated a dose dependent increase in cyclic adenosine monophosphate accumulation in C170 cells, antagonised by cimetidine. When grown as subcutaneous xenografts in Balb/c nu/nu mice, cimetidine had a significant inhibitory effect on the same two cell lines. The final volume of C170 tumours in animals given cimetidine was 44% of controls. This response was dose dependent, plateauing at a cimetidine dose of 50 mg/kg/day. The final volume of LIM2412 tumours in animals given cimetidine was 60% of controls. Histamine administered locally by a mini-osmotic pump stimulated C170 tumour growth to 164% of controls, was antagonised by cimetidine at a dose of 200 mg/kg/day, but not by lower concentrations. Histamine has a trophic effect on at least two colorectal cancer cell lines in vivo and in vitro. As this effect is antagonised by cimetidine, it may be mediated via tumour histamine type 2 receptors.