Growth of cultured human glioma tumour cells can be regulated with histamine and histamine antagonists


The 50% survival time for low grade astrocytomas is 50 months and for high grade astrocytomas it is 13 months, underlining the need for new therapies. Several reports show that in vivo histamine antagonists cause retardation of tumour growth in some animal models and prolonged survival in cancer patients. Therefore we have tested the growth modulating effects of histamine and histamine antagonists on human glioma cultures. Twelve freshly excised human gliomas were cultured and tested for their in vitro sensitivity to histamine and histamine antagonists. Four continuous glioma cell lines were used to confirm the glioma-specificity of the effects observed in the primary cell lines. In low serum concentration (0 or 1%) the growth of 5/9 primary glioma-derived cultures could be stimulated with 0.2 mM histamine, and in 4/5 cases with 0.2 microM histamine. One mM of the histamine H2-receptor antagonist cimetidine could inhibit the growth of 4/5 primary glioma cultures when tested in 1% human AB serum, and of 6/13 cases when tested in 1% FCS. Lower concentrations (down to 1 microM) were less effective. The histamine H1-receptor antagonist pyrilamine gave variable results. The specificity of the effects is indicated by the absence of a generalised toxic effect, by the observation that the antagonist-induced inhibition could be reversed with histamine, and by the correlation of the obtained cimetidine-induced growth inhibition with the maximal growth rate of the primary cell lines in 10% FCS. The observed cimetidine-induced inhibition of the in vitro proliferation of gliomas suggests that cimetidine is a relevant candidate for the in vivo growth inhibition of these tumours.

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Van der Ven, L., Prinsen, I., Jansen, G. et al. Growth of cultured human glioma tumour cells can be regulated with histamine and histamine antagonists. Br J Cancer 68, 475–483 (1993).

Download citation

Further reading