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Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2011 Feb;67(2):421-30. doi: 10.1007/s00280-010-1337-6. Epub 2010 May 5.

Plasma pharmacokinetics and oral bioavailability of the 3,4,5,6-tetrahydrouridine (THU) prodrug, triacetyl-THU (taTHU), in mice.

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  • 1Molecular Therapeutics/Drug Discovery Program, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Hillman Research Pavilion, Room G27D, 5117 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 5213-1863, USA.



Cytidine drugs, such as gemcitabine, undergo rapid catabolism and inactivation by cytidine deaminase (CD). 3,4,5,6-tetrahydrouridine (THU), a potent CD inhibitor, has been applied preclinically and clinically as a modulator of cytidine analogue metabolism. However, THU is only 20% orally bioavailable, which limits its preclinical evaluation and clinical use. Therefore, we characterized THU pharmacokinetics after the administration to mice of the more lipophilic pro-drug triacetyl-THU (taTHU).


Mice were dosed with 150 mg/kg taTHU i.v. or p.o. Plasma and urine THU concentrations were quantitated with a validated LC-MS/MS assay. Plasma and urine pharmacokinetic parameters were calculated non-compartmentally and compartmentally.


taTHU did not inhibit CD. THU, after 150 mg/kg taTHU i.v., had a 235-min terminal half-life and produced plasma THU concentrations >1 μg/mL, the concentration shown to inhibit CD, for 10 h. Renal excretion accounted for 40-55% of the i.v. taTHU dose, 6-12% of the p.o. taTHU dose. A two-compartment model of taTHU generating THU fitted the i.v. taTHU data best. taTHU, at 150 mg/kg p.o., produced a concentration versus time profile with a plateau of approximately 10 μg/mL from 0.5-2 h, followed by a decline with a 122-min half-life. Approximately 68% of i.v. taTHU is converted to THU. Approximately 30% of p.o. taTHU reaches the systemic circulation as THU.


The availability of THU after p.o. taTHU is 30%, when compared to the 20% achieved with p.o. THU. These data will support the clinical studies of taTHU.

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