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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1984 Sep;10(9):1585-94.

Modification of chemotherapy by nitroimidazoles.


The potentiation of chemotherapeutic agents by radiation sensitizers has been extensively studied for several years. There is little doubt that the effectiveness of certain anti-cancer drugs, primarily alkylating agents, can readily be enhanced both in vitro and in vivo through the addition of a sensitizer. While enhanced effects have been observed in certain critical normal tissues, in general most animal model studies have demonstrated a therapeutic gain at large sensitizer doses. This approach to combination therapies therefore appears promising. Yet many questions concerning the interaction between chemotherapeutic agents and radiosensitizers, particularly in the area of mechanisms of action, still remain. This overview attempts to focus on some of these questions. Four aspects of modification of chemotherapy by nitroimidazoles are reviewed and discussed. These address the importance in chemopotentiation of i) hypoxia, ii) alterations in DNA damage and/or repair, iii) depletion of intracellular sulfhydryls and iv) modification of drug pharmacokinetics. It is concluded that: i) even though chemopotentiation can occur at intermediate oxygen levels, hypoxia ultimately plays a pivotal role, ii) no single unifying mechanism for chemopotentiation exists; alterations in drug pharmacokinetics, cellular SH levels and DNA damage/repair all are involved, the relative importance of each factor is dependent on the particular drug-sensitizer combination, iii) it is important to continue the evaluation of chemopotentiation under conditions mimicking clinically achievable sensitizer pharmacokinetics and iv) further investigations into more effective utilization of chemopotentiation are warranted.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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