The effects of lithium, an agent used in the treatment of manic depression and to attenuate myelosuppression during chemotherapy, on HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells were investigated. By monitoring cell growth at varying concentrations (0-50 mM), as well as by following cell proliferation over 8 days, it was established that lithium stimulates HL-60 proliferation within a very narrow concentration range. Enhancement of growth was optimal at 5 mM, whereas concentrations above 10 mM were toxic. Time course studies revealed that the greatest increase in cell number occurred after 5-6 days in the presence of lithium. This was preceded by DNA synthesis reaching a maximum after 1-2 days. Viability of the cells decreased gradually after 3 days with 5 mM, but not with 2.5 mM. We suggest that HL-60 cells are a suitable model to further investigate possible mitogenic and cytotoxic effects of lithium in vitro.
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