Incorporation of tritiated thymidine into acid-precipitable material was used to measure the rate of DNA synthesis in secondary cultures of human diploid fibroblasts. Confluent cultures of human diploid fibroblasts, which are synchronized in the G1 phase due to contact inhibition, were released from growth inhibition either by the addition of fresh medium to the cultures or by trypsinization and replating at nonconfluent densities. Either treatment resulted in a synchronous wave of DNA synthesis beginning 10–15 h after treatment and peaking at 20–25 h. In confluent cultures stimulated by fresh medium, either the addition of 0.25 mM N6, O2-dibutyryl-adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate (db-cAMP) to the medium in the interval 4–8 h after stimulation or the replacement of the fresh medium in that same 4 h interval with the depleted medium present on the cells for the 2 day period before stimulation delayed the synchronous onset of DNA synthesis in the cultures by about 4 h. In nonconfluent cultures freshly seeded from trypsinized confluent cultures, this same depleted medium obtained after a 2 day incubation of fresh medium on confluent cultures is shown to support the progress of the cells into S phase; however, the addition of 0.25 mM db-cAMP to the medium 3½ h after replating still partially prevented the initiation of DNA synthesis in the cultures. The results are discussed in terms of the role of serum and cAMP in the control of cell growth in fibroblast cultures.

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