Human pharmacokinetic characterization and in vitro study of the interaction between doxorubicin and paclitaxel in patients with breast cancer

L. Gianni, L. Viganò, A. Locatelli, G. Capri, A. Giani, E. Tarenzi, G. Bonadonna

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Purpose: We performed a pharmacologic investigation of paclitaxel (PTX) infused over 3 hours and bolus doxorubicin (DOX) to assess the role of sequence, interval between drugs, and duration of doxorubicin infusion on paclitaxel and anthracycline plasma disposition. We also explored possible mechanisms of pharmacokinetic interference involving the physiologic role of the multidrug resistance phenotype in anthracycline and taxane biliary excretion. Patients and Methods: Pharmacokinetics was performed in 80 cycles and 36 women with previously untreated metastatic breast cancer. PTX, DOX, and their metabolites 6α-hydroxyl-PTX (6αOH-PTX) and doxorubicinol (DOL) were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). Human breast cancer MCF-7 wild-type (WT) and resistant (TH) cell lines were cultured in whole human plasma to study anthracycline retention after treatment with different combinations of PTX, Cremophor EL (CEL) (PEG35 castor oil; BASF, Parsippany, NJ), and DOX. Results: Pharmacokinetic interference between PTX and DOX was responsible for nonlinearity of DOX plasma disposition and increased concentrations of DOX and DOL. These effects were PTX dose- dependent, DOX concentration-dependent, and likely a result of interference at the level of liver elimination. In view of the physiologic role of P- glycoproteins (P-gp) in xenobiotic biliary excretion, retention of DOX was assessed in MCF-7 WT and MCF-7 TH cells. Intracellular was significantly higher in MCF-7 WT than MCF-7 TH (P <.05). However, concomitant exposure to DOX, PTX, and CEL caused similar DOX retention in both MCF-7 WT and TH cells. Conclusion: PTX, as clinically formulated in CEL, is responsible for a nonlinear disposition of DOX and DOL. Nonlinearity is PTX- and DOX-dependent, and possibly caused by competition far biliary excretion of taxanes and anthracyclines mediated by P-gp. Nonlinearity indicates that even minor modifications of dose and infusion duration of DOX and PTX may lead to unpredictable pharmacodynamic consequences. The postulated role of P-gp suggests that CEL is clinically active, and advises caution in designing combinations of PTX with other drugs that are substrate for P-gp.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1906-1915
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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