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Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Feb;125(2):196-218. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2009.10.002. Epub 2009 Oct 27.

Anticancer drugs and cardiotoxicity: Insights and perspectives in the era of targeted therapy.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


Drug-induced cardiotoxicity is emerging as an important issue among cancer survivors. For several decades, this topic was almost exclusively associated with anthracyclines, for which cumulative dose-related cardiac damage was the limiting step in their use. Although a number of efforts have been directed towards prediction of risk, so far no consensus exists on the strategies to prevent and monitor chemotherapy-related cardiotoxicity. Recently, a new dimension of the problem has emerged when drugs targeting the activity of certain tyrosine kinases or tumor receptors were recognized to carry an unwanted effect on the cardiovascular system. Moreover, the higher than expected incidence of cardiac dysfunction occurring in patients treated with a combination of old and new chemotherapeutics (e.g. anthracyclines and trastuzumab) prompted clinicians and researchers to find an effective approach to the problem. From the pharmacological standpoint, putative molecular mechanisms involved in chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity will be reviewed. From the clinical standpoint, current strategies to reduce cardiotoxicity will be critically addressed. In this perspective, the precise identification of the antitarget (i.e. the unwanted target causing heart damage) and the development of guidelines to monitor patients undergoing treatment with cardiotoxic agents appear to constitute the basis for the management of drug-induced cardiotoxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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