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Anthracycline Metabolism and Toxicity in Human Myocardium: Comparisons between Doxorubicin, Epirubicin, and a Novel Disaccharide Analogue with a Reduced Level of Formation and [4Fe-4S] Reactivity of Its Secondary Alcohol Metabolite

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Department of Drug Sciences, G. D'Annunzio University School of Pharmacy, and Department of Cardiac Surgery, G. D'Annunzio University School of Medicine, Chieti; Institute of Pharmacology, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome; and Menarini Ricerche S. p. A., Pomezia (Rome), Italy
Cite this: Chem. Res. Toxicol. 2000, 13, 12, 1336–1341
Publication Date (Web):November 30, 2000
Copyright © 2000 American Chemical Society

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    Secondary alcohol metabolites have been proposed to mediate chronic cardiotoxicity induced by doxorubicin (DOX) and other anticancer anthracyclines. In this study, NADPH-supplemented human cardiac cytosol was found to reduce the carbonyl group in the side chain of the tetracyclic ring of DOX, producing the secondary alcohol metabolite doxorubicinol (DOXol). A decrease in the level of alcohol metabolite formation was observed by replacing DOX with epirubicin (EPI), a less cardiotoxic analogue characterized by an axial-to-equatorial epimerization of the hydroxyl group at C-4 in the amino sugar bound to the tetracyclic ring (daunosamine). A similar decrease was observed by replacing DOX with MEN 10755, a novel anthracycline with preclinical evidence of reduced cardiotoxicity. MEN 10755 is characterized by the lack of a methoxy group at C-4 in the tetracyclic ring and by intercalation of 2,6-dideoxy-l-fucose between daunosamine and the aglycone. Multiple comparisons with methoxy- or 4-demethoxyaglycones, and a number of mono- or disaccharide 4-demethoxyanthracyclines, showed that both the lack of the methoxy group and the presence of a disaccharide moiety limited alcohol metabolite formation by MEN 10755. Studies with enzymatically generated or purified anthracycline secondary alcohols also showed that the presence of a disaccharide moiety, but not the lack of a methoxy group, made the metabolite of MEN 10755 less reactive with the [4Fe-4S] cluster of cytoplasmic aconitase, as evidenced by its limited reoxidation to the parent carbonyl anthracycline and by a reduced level of delocalization of Fe(II) from the cluster. Collectively, these studies (i) characterize the different influence of methoxy and sugar substituents on the formation and [4Fe-4S] reactivity of anthracycline secondary alcohols, (ii) lend support to the role of alcohol metabolites in anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity, as they demonstrate that the less cardiotoxic EPI and MEN 10755 share a reduction in the level of formation of such metabolites, and (iii) suggest that the cardiotoxicity of MEN 10755 might be further decreased by the reduced [4Fe-4S] reactivity of its alcohol metabolite.

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     To whom correspondence should be addressed:  Department of Drug Sciences, G. D'Annunzio University School of Pharmacy, Via dei Vestini, 66013 Chieti, Italy. Phone: 011-39-0871-3555237. Fax: 011-39-0871-3555315. E-mail: [email protected].

     Department of Drug Sciences, G. D'Annunzio University School of Pharmacy.

     Institute of Pharmacology, Catholic University School of Medicine.


     Department of Cardiac Surgery, G. D'Annunzio University School of Medicine.

     Menarini Ricerche S. p. A., Pomezia (Rome).

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