A Possible Anti-folic Acid Effect of Urethane


URETHANE (ethyl carbamate) is a compound with a series of diverse biological actions including narcotic effects, cytotoxic and cytostatic action, and remarkably varied carcinogenicity in different species and organs1,2. The metabolic changes associated with these different activities are difficult to visualize since the compound is rapidly metabolized, being almost entirely eliminated within 24 h (ref. 3). In recent investigations by one of us4, it was demonstrated that an abnormal purine derivative can be demonstrated in the RNA from the livers of mice treated with ethyl-1-14C urethane. In the course of hypothetical consideration of possible pathways of action of urethane we considered the possibility that the acute effects observed might be due to an anti-folic acid effect. The acute biological effects of this compound are certainly similar to effects seen with folic acid antagonists such as aminopterin5; however, there is obviously no similarity in chemical structure. It was, nevertheless, decided to test the hypothesis in the following simple experiment.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Toth, B., Della Porta, G., and Shubik, P., Brit. J. Cancer, 15, 322 (1961).

  2. 2

    Pietra, G., Rappaport, H., and Shubik, P., Cancer, 14, 308 (1961).

  3. 3

    Berenblum, I., Haran-Ghera, N., Winnick, R., and Winnick, T., Cancer Res., 18, 181 (1958).

  4. 4

    Lee, K. Y. (manuscript in preparation).

  5. 5

    Greenspan, E. M., Goldin, A., and Schoenbach, E. B., Cancer, 3, 856 (1950).

  6. 6

    Weil, C. S., Biometrics, 8, 249 (1952).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

LEE, K., SHUBIK, P. A Possible Anti-folic Acid Effect of Urethane. Nature 206, 1051–1052 (1965). https://doi.org/10.1038/2061051a0

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.