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Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 Feb 15;163(1):50-9.

Hypoxia-dependent retinal toxicity of bioreductive anticancer prodrugs in mice.

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Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.


The bioreductive anticancer prodrug CI-1010 ((2R)-1-[(2-bromoethyl)amino]-3-(2-nitro-1H-imidazol-1-yl)-2-propanol hydrobromide) is an alkylating nitroimidazole which shows selective toxicity against hypoxic cells in murine tumors, but causes extensive apoptosis in the outer retina in rodents and monkeys. This irreversible retinal toxicity has terminated preclinical development of CI-1010. We have investigated whether such toxicity is due to physiological hypoxia in the retina, and whether it is a general feature of hypoxia-selective bioreductive drugs. Retinal damage was quantified by morphometric analysis of histological sections following treatment of female C57Bl6 mice. Both CI-1010 and tirapazamine (TPZ, 1,2,4-benzotriazin-3-amine 1,4-dioxide), a bioreductive drug in Phase III clinical trial, caused a time and dose-dependent loss of photoreceptor cells of the outer retina following administration of single intraperitoneal doses. The lesion caused by TPZ was qualitatively similar to that with CI-1010, but was less severe at equivalent fractions of the maximum tolerated dose (as defined by lethality). With both bioreductive drugs, lesion severity was increased if animals breathed 10% O(2) for 3 h after drug administration, while breathing 95% O(2)/5% CO(2) was protective. Other hypoxia-selective bioreductive drugs tested (the quinone porfiromycin, the anthraquinone N-oxide AQ4N and the nitrogen mustard prodrugs SN 23816 and SN 25341) did not cause retinal damage at their maximum tolerated doses. This study suggests that the retinal toxicity of bioreductive drugs might be avoided by manipulation of tissue hypoxia using 95% O(2)/5% CO(2), although this intervention could suppress antitumor activity. The finding that not all bioreductive drugs cause retinal toxicity suggests this toxicity can be avoided through appropriate drug design.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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