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J Clin Oncol. 1993 Jan;11(1):116-24.

Fludarabine potentiates metabolism of cytarabine in patients with acute myelogenous leukemia during therapy.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.



A protocol was designed to test the hypothesis that fludarabine infusion before arabinosylcytosine (cytarabine [ara-C]) would increase the accumulation of the active metabolite ara-C triphosphate (ara-CTP) in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) blasts during therapy.


Patients (n = 5) received 1 g/m2 of ara-C infused intravenously (IV) for 2 hours, followed at 20 hours by 30 mg/m2 of fludarabine for 30 minutes. At 24 hours, another identical dose of ara-C was infused. To determine the optimal duration of ara-C infusion following fludarabine, five additional patients were treated on an amended protocol in which the ara-C infusion was extended to 3 g/m2 infused over 6 hours.


Comparison of ara-CTP pharmacokinetics in circulating AML cells demonstrated that the area under the curve (AUC) of ara-CTP increased significantly (median, 1.8-fold; range, 1.6 to 2.4; P = .004) after fludarabine infusion. Neither the median plasma ara-C concentrations, the levels of its deamination product arabinosyluracil, nor the rate of ara-CTP elimination from circulating blasts was affected by fludarabine infusion. However, the rate of ara-CTP accumulation by AML cells was increased by a median of 2.0-fold (range, 1.8 to 2.2; P = .001) after fludarabine; the peak occurred within 1 hour of the end of the infusion. In vitro incubation of these cells with arabinosyl-2-fluoroadenine (F-ara-A) before ara-C also produced a median 1.7-fold increase in the ara-CTP accumulation rate. Pharmacology studies in patients receiving 6-hour infusions of ara-C demonstrated that the rate of ara-CTP accumulation was potentiated beyond 2 hours, but not for 6 hours.


Infusion of fludarabine before ara-C augments the rate of ara-CTP synthesis in circulating AML blasts during therapy. Evaluation of 6-hour ara-C infusions demonstrated that potentiation of ara-CTP synthesis is maximal up to 4 hours in most patients; this pharmacologically optimized regimen should be considered for combination with other antileukemia drugs.

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