Immunization and intraperitoneal challenge of DBA/2 mice with L5178Y lymphoma cells results in the suppression and maintenance of the L5178Y cells in a tumor-dormant state in the peritoneal cavity for many months. Cell-mediated immune responses involving lymphocytes and macrophages are involved in maintenance of the tumor-dormant state. Macrophages that have increased immunosuppressive activity and that produce increased amounts of PGE2 appear in the peritoneal cavity of tumor-dormant mice before the breakdown of the tumor-dormant state and formation of ascitic tumors. We report here that the tumor-dormant state can be terminated with formation of ascitic tumors by treatment of tumor-dormant mice with PGE2. Treatment with indomethacin results in inhibition of tumor cell growth and elimination of all recoverable tumor cells. Cultures of peritoneal cells (PC) from mice harboring L5178Y cells in a tumor-dormant state were used to analyze the PGE2 and indomethacin effects. Tumor cells did not grow out in the high-cell density PC cultures prepared from many tumor-dormant mice, but addition of PGE2 to these cultures resulted in tumor cell growth. The tumor cell growth that did occur in the PC cultures from some tumor-dormant mice was associated with PGE2 production by the associated host cells, and the addition of indomethacin to these cultures inhibited both PGE2 synthesis and tumor cell growth. Removal of plastic-adherent cells from the PC cultures eliminated the restraint on tumor cell growth. These experiments suggest that L5178Y tumor cells are maintained in a tumor-dormant state by host peritoneal cells, which are under PGE2 regulation.

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