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Experimental screening of two BCG preparations produced according to different principles

Immunostimulating properties, safety, and antitumor activity

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Two BCG preparations produced according to different principles for use as an adjunct to surgery in a comparative clinical trial in melanoma patients have been examined for immunostimulating, toxic, and antitumor activity in various murine and guinea pig models and for immunostimulation in vitro of human lymphocytes. One BCG preparation was prepared in the classic way, i.e., grown as a surface culture and subsequently homogenized in a ball mill, while the other preparation was grown as a dispersed culture.

In general, a comparable effect on spleen weight of the proliferation of lymph node cells and activation of spleen macrophages was observed when a similar amount of culturable particles of either BCG preparation were administered. In parallel with these effects, an increase of the serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase was detected. Activation of natural killer cells and the induction of an immune reaction in lymph nodes appeared to be a function of the total amount of injected viable and dead micro-organisms.

The synergistic effect of the BCG preparation grown as a dispersed culture on the stimulation of human lymphocytes by phytohaemagglutinin, lacking in the BCG preparation grown as surface culture and subsequently homogenized in a ball mill, was due to the stabilizers present in the former material.

The effect of BCG treatment on the growth of an originally chemically induced murine fibrosarcoma depended on the treatment schedule. Growth enhancement, growth retardation, or no effect was observed, depending on the regimen used. Although differences between the two BCG preparations could be demonstrated in the various models the clinical relevance of these reported results can only be evaluated in conjunction with the outcome of the comparative clinical trial.

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Correspondence to J. G. Kreeftenberg.

Additional information

Now Fellow of the Koningin Wilhelmina Fonds of the National Cancer League of The Nederlands

Now Secretary of the Health Council, The Hague, The Netherlands

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Kreeftenberg, J.G., de Jong, W.H., Ettekoven, H. et al. Experimental screening of two BCG preparations produced according to different principles. Cancer Immunol Immunother 12, 21–29 (1981). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00200308

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  • Melanoma
  • Natural Killer Cell
  • Ball Mill
  • Human Lymphocyte
  • Fibrosarcoma