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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1991 May;72(5):1130-5.

Foscarnet-induced hypocalcemia and effects of foscarnet on calcium metabolism.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


Foscarnet (trisodium phosphonoformate), an investigational pyrophosphate analog increasingly used to treat refractory cytomegalovirus retinitis and mucocutaneous herpes simplex virus infections in immunocompromised patients, has been reported to cause abnormalities in serum calcium and phosphate, including cases of fatal hypocalcemia. To further elucidate the magnitude and mechanism of these abnormalities in humans treated with foscarnet for opportunistic herpes virus infections, we analyzed anaerobic serum specimens and 24-h urine samples before and after single and multiple doses of iv foscarnet and performed a series of in vitro experiments with normal human serum and plasma. Plasma ionized calcium concentrations acutely decreased by a mean 0.17 mmol/L in the 6 individuals who received a 90 mg/kg dose of foscarnet and by a mean 0.28 mmol/L in the 11 individuals who received a 120 mg/kg dose (P = 0.016, 90 vs. 120 mg/kg dose). Results of in vitro experiments showed a highly significant inverse linear relationship between foscarnet and ionized calcium concentrations, but no correlation between foscarnet and total calcium or phosphate concentration. Dialysis experiments suggested that the complexing of foscarnet with ionized calcium could be a cause of this ionized hypocalcemia. Physicians must be aware of this phenomenon and should measure serum ionized calcium during foscarnet therapy (preferably at the end of a foscarnet infusion) whenever neurological or cardiological abnormalities occur.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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