The administration of appropriate doses of interferon to cultures of Friend leukemia cells causes a pronounced inhibition of cell growth. Several lines of evidence indicate that this effect is due to interferon itself, rather than to unknown contaminants of interferon preparations. Autoradiograph analysis of growth parameters of Friend leukemia cells during treatment with interferon demonstrates that the rate of entry into the S phase, the percent decline of unlabeled mitoses, and the mitotic indexes are significantly lower in interferon-treated cell cultures than in control untreated cultures when tritiated thymidine was added 12 h after the administration of interferon. These data indicate that fractions of interferon-treated cell population are delayed in both G1 and in G2 phases of the cell cycle. This was confirmed by exact measurements of the length of the various phases of the cycle. The interferon-induced inhibition of growth of Friend leukemia cells is reversible after removal of the compound. Autoradiograph data obtained from control cultures and from cultures previously treated with interferon that had been washed free of interferon and reseeded in interferon-free medium, demonstrate that during the first 12 h after removal of interferon, a large majority of the cells previously treated with interferon had a deranged flow into the S phase, a high number of unlabeled mitoses, and a low mitotic index. These data provide further evidence for the above-mentioned prolongations of G1 and G2 phases of the cell cycle. All growth parameters tested reverted to normal values within 12 h after washing out interferon.

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