Send to

Choose Destination
Br J Cancer. 1999 May;80(5-6):629-38.

The sulfhydryl containing compounds WR-2721 and glutathione as radio- and chemoprotective agents. A review, indications for use and prospects.

Author information

Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Groningen, The Netherlands.


Radio- and chemotherapy for the treatment of malignancies are often associated with significant toxicity. One approach to reduce the toxicity is the concomitant treatment with chemoprotective agents. This article reviews two sulfhydryl compounds, namely the agent WR-2721 (amifostine), a compound recently registered for use in human in many countries, and the natural occurring compound glutathione (GSH). GSH is not registered as a chemoprotective agent. WR-2721 is an aminothiol prodrug and has to be converted to the active compound WR-1065 by membrane-bound alkaline phosphatase. WR-1065 and GSH both act as naturally occurring thiols. No protective effect on the tumour has been found when these compounds are administered intravenously. There is even in vitro evidence for an increased anti-tumour effect with mafosfamide after pretreatment with WR-2721, and in vivo after treatment with carboplatin and paclitaxel. Randomized clinical studies have shown that WR-2721 and GSH decrease cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity and that WR-2721 reduces radiation radiotherapy-induced toxicity. Side-effects associated with WR-2721 are nausea, vomiting and hypotension, GSH has no side-effects. An exact role of WR-2721 and GSH as chemoprotectors is not yet completely clear. Future studies should examine the protective effect of these drugs on mucositis, cardiac toxicity, neuro- and ototoxicity, the development of secondary neoplasms and their effect on quality of life.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center