Development of a model of melphalan-induced gastrointestinal toxicity in mice.
The tolerated dose of melphalan is limited by bone marrow suppression; when this complication is ameliorated by bone marrow transplantation, the dose-limiting toxicity becomes gastrointestinal mucositis. No intervention to date has been successful in modulating this life-threatening complication of melphalan. We conducted studies to develop a murine model of melphalan-induced gastrointestinal toxicity to facilitate the preclinical identification of effective strategies for reducing this toxicity. Melphalan given at the 90% lethal dosage produced severe gastrointestinal mucositis and mortality (13 of 23 treated mice). Syngeneic bone marrow transplantation, effective in preventing the myeloablation produced by total-body irradiation, was ineffective in preventing melphalan-induced mortality (16 of 23 treated mice), indicating that gastrointestinal mucositis was the dose-limiting toxicity. On the basis of the results of previous studies, which revealed that depletion of glutathione enhances the antineoplastic activity of melphalan and that glutathione is required for murine intestinal function, we attempted to modulate melphalan-induced gastrointestinal toxicity by the administration of glutathione (8-10 mmol/kg given in 1 ml sterile water by gavage at 12-h intervals for 4-8 doses). Glutathione therapy failed to produce a significant increase in mucosal glutathione content in animals treated with melphalan plus glutathione gavage as compared with those receiving melphalan alone (P > 0.05), and histologic mucosal injury secondary to melphalan was not reduced. The administration of glutathione in the presence or absence of concomitant bone marrow transplantation did not decrease melphalan-induced mortality (melphalan alone, 16/26 deaths; melphalan plus glutathione, 14/25 deaths; melphalan plus glutathione plus bone marrow transplantation, 20/26 deaths). Studies using a reduced melphalan dose (50% lethal dosage) produced similar results, with no survival benefit being seen following glutathione administration. Our studies suggest that melphalan-induced mucositis can be studied in a mouse model in which this complication is dose-limiting. Although glutathione administration at the dose and schedules initially studied is not effective in reducing this damage, other therapeutic strategies such as the use of alternative glutathione regimens or other thiols can be effectively studied in this system.
Castellino, S; Elion, GB; Griffith, OW; Dewhirst, M; Kurtzberg, J; Cattley, RC; Scott, P; Bigner, DD; Friedman, HS
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