Hematopoietic toxicity and cell cycle perturbations induced by new DNA minor groove-alkylating agents

Cristian Filippini, Matteo Bisiach, Giovanna Tagliabue, Maurizio D'Incalci, Paolo Ubezio

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Some new alkylating agents which bind to the minor groove of DNA and have sequence-specific patterns of alkylation have shown anti-neoplastic activity in pre-clinical systems. Two of them, carzelesin and tallimustine, are now in phase II. Considering the severe dose-limiting bone marrow toxicity of both these drugs in clinical use, it was of interest to investigate the mechanism of their myelotoxicity in a detailed pre-clinical study and compare it with a conventional alkylating agent such as melphalan. The origin and progression of the myelotoxicity of carzelesin, tallimustine and melphalan were investigated comparatively in mice, combining data on bone marrow and peripheral blood cellularity with data on the proliferative activity of bone marrow cells, obtained by in vivo administration of bromodeoxyuridine. Significant differences were found between the hematopoietic response to the 3 drugs, though all caused severe leukopenia. Carzelesin induced a short-term increase in myeloid proliferative activity, which prevented the high leukocytopenia on day 3 observed with the other drugs. However, when this effect was exhausted, a second nadir was seen in peripheral blood, with a new wave of cell proliferation of all lineages in the bone marrow. Reconstruction of the lymphoid lineage was slow for all 3 drugs but particularly difficult with high-dose tallimustine. In general, the hematopoietic system response to tallimustine was dampened, with no overshoots, suggesting either lasting effects or extensive cytotoxicity from the early to late precursors of all lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-809
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 4 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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