Cytarabine (cytosine arabinoside) is one of the most effective drugs for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. The standard dose of cytarabine used to treat this leukemia is 100 mg per square meter. In an attempt to improve the effectiveness of cytarabine against acute myeloid leukemia, a high-dose treatment (3,000 mg per square meter) was introduced into therapy. The side effects of high-dose cytarabine was a major concern, especially its neurological toxicity. A review of recent clinical trials indicates that this high-dose cytarabine can be replaced by the intermediate-dose of 1,000 mg per square meter without loss of efficacy and with less toxicity. This is an important step to improve the efficacy of cytarabine for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. Despite the improvements in the therapy for this leukemia, the current overall survival rate for adult patients is less than 30%. To optimize the cytarabine therapy, it is important to determine how some leukemic stem cells survive treatment. Preclinical data suggest that survival of the leukemic stem cells could be due to the long 12 hour interval between infusions of cytarabine, which permits some leukemic cells to escape its S phase specific action. Among the other factors that can lead to leukemic cell survival are the high levels in the liver and spleen of cytidine deaminase, the enzyme that inactivates cytarabine and drug resistance due to deficiency in deoxycytidine kinase, the enzyme that activates the prodrug, cytarabine. Several approaches are proposed in this commentary to overcome these impediments with the goal of increasing the effectiveness of cytarabine for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.
Momparler, R. L. (2013, August 6). Optimization of cytarabine (ARA-C) therapy for acute myeloid leukemia. Experimental Hematology and Oncology. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/2162-3619-2-20