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Ren Fail. 1990;12(2):93-7.

Folate nephropathy occurring during cytotoxic chemotherapy with high-dose folinic acid and 5-fluorouracil.

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Department of Renal and Hypertensive Diseases, University Medical School, Essen, FRG.


High-dose folinic acid with 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is a novel combination chemotherapy used in the treatment of metastatic gastrointestinal cancer. One of the mechanisms of action of 5-FU is its conversion into fluorodeoxyuridylate (FdUMP), which inhibits thymidilate synthetase (TS). The rate of inhibition of TS is augmented by increasing concentrations of folinic acid. On the other hand, it is well known that treatment of animals with high doses of folinic acid results in acute renal failure due to tubular obstruction. In order to find out whether there are similar findings in the clinical setting, we investigated 8 patients (pts.) with metastatic gastrointestinal cancer who were treated with this chemotherapy. We used the following parameters: 1. excretion of four urinary enzymes (LDH, LAP, GGT, NAG); 2. creatinine clearance on days 1 and 5. Therapy consisted of folinic acid 200 mg/m2 i.v. on days 1-5 and 5-fluorouracil 400 mg/m2 on days 1-5. Each treatment cycle was repeated on day 28. We found a constant decrease in the excretion of all 4 enzymes from normal to subnormal values which was statistically significant (p less than .05) during the two treatment cycles. Creatinine clearance decreased about 50% in three patients from normal initial values. In conclusion, during therapy with high-dose folinic acid and 5-fluorouracil we found signs of tubular damage which are similar to those found in folate nephropathy.

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