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Invest New Drugs. 2012 Jun;30(3):1055-64. doi: 10.1007/s10637-011-9637-1. Epub 2011 Feb 8.

Management of axitinib (AG-013736)-induced fatigue and thyroid dysfunction, and predictive biomarkers of axitinib exposure: results from phase I studies in Japanese patients.

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  • 1Medical Oncology/Hematology, Department of Medicine, Kobe University Hospital, 7-5-2, Kusunoki-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 650-0017, Japan.



Axitinib is an oral, potent and selective inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFRs) 1, 2 and 3. We report on data obtained from 18 Japanese patients with advanced solid tumors in two phase I trials that evaluated the safety, pharmacokinetics and antitumor activity of axitinib and also examined potential biomarkers.


Six patients received a single 5-mg dose of axitinib followed by 5 mg twice daily (BID), and an additional six patients received axitinib 5 mg BID only. Another six patients received axitinib at 5-mg, 7-mg and 10-mg single doses followed by 5 mg BID.


Plasma pharmacokinetics following single doses of axitinib was generally linear. Common treatment-related adverse events were fatigue (83%), anorexia (72%), diarrhea (67%), hand-foot syndrome (67%) and hypertension (61%). Sixteen patients (89%) experienced thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) elevation. Grade 3/4 toxicities included hypertension (33%) and fatigue (28%). No grade 3/4 fatigue occurred in patients who started thyroid hormone replacement therapy when TSH was elevated. Thyroglobulin elevation was observed in all patients who continued treatment with axitinib for ≥3 months. Abnormal TSH correlated with exposure to axitinib (r = 0.72). Decrease in soluble (s) VEGFR-2 levels significantly correlated with exposure to axitinib (r = -0.94). Axitinib showed antitumor activity across multiple tumor types.


Axitinib-related thyroid dysfunction could be due to a direct effect on the thyroid gland. Grade 3/4 fatigue and hypothyroidism appear to be controllable with use of thyroid hormone replacement therapy. sVEGFR-2 and TSH may act as biomarkers of axitinib plasma exposure.

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