Chlorozotocin (chlorozocin, CLZ), the 2-chloroethyl analogue of streptozocin (STZ), was evaluated in three species of rodents. The drug is currently being used in phase II chemotherapeutic trials in man, and appears to be effective in the treatment of certain tumors. In our studies, hyperglycemia was induced in hamsters as early as 2 days after a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of 30–60 mg/kg and was most striking at 4 days. Greater concentrations of CLZ (≥50 mg/kg) were required to produce hyperglycemia in CD-1 mice. Degranulation and necrosis of beta cells developed in hamsters and mice, whereas alpha and acinar cells of the pancreas revealed no morphologic changes. Hyperglycemia was not induced in rats at any concentration tested; however, animals showed abnormal carbohydrate tolerance after administration of 100 mg/kg CLZ (LD50 dosage).
The nature of damage by CLZ to beta cells was investigated both in vivo and in vitro. Pretreatment of hamsters with nicotinamide (500 mg/kg, i.p.) failed to alter the extent of CLZ-induced beta cell injury and associated hyperglycemia, but decreased the amount pf beta cell necrosis and hyperglycemia in animals receiving STZ. The nonmetabolizable sugar, 3-O-methylglucose (3–O-MG), and 3-aminobenzamide, an inhibitor of the nuclear enzyme, poly AD Pribose synthetase, prevented STZ-associated damage to beta cells in islet cell cultures, but only 3–O-MG reduced CLZ-induced toxicity. Thus, in comparison to STZ, CLZ appears to be a diabetogenic agent with different species specificity and alternative mechanisms of cytotoxicity. The glucose moiety of both drugs appears critical in the induction of beta cell damage.