Preclinical evaluation of gemcitabine combination regimens for application in acute myeloid leukemia.
The DNA antimetabolite gemcitabine is an anticancer agent with shown preclinical and clinical utility and a low toxicity profile. In this study, we sought to identify and optimize drug partners for binary and tertiary combinations with gemcitabine for use in the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Drug interaction was assessed by growth inhibition assay with metabolic end points. The combination index method was used to evaluate combinations of gemcitabine with fludarabine, paclitaxel, chlorambucil, doxorubicin, mitoxantrone, and SN-38 in U937 human AML cells. A three-dimensional method was used to determine the effect of dose ratio and schedule on drug interaction. Mechanisms underlying interactions related to cell cycle effects and apoptosis were assessed by flow cytometric and caspase-3 and -7 assays, respectively. The most synergistic binary combination was gemcitabine + fludarabine. The most synergistic tertiary combination was gemcitabine + fludarabine + paclitaxel, where the interaction was sequence dependent with paclitaxel given before gemcitabine + fludarabine, producing a 2-fold increase in synergy. Cell cycle analysis did not reveal a significant G(2)-M arrest, suggesting that the synergistic effect of paclitaxel in this combination, which produced the greatest caspase activation, might be independent of microtubule stabilization. In contrast, the gemcitabine + fludarabine + mitoxantrone combination was synergistic and schedule independent. Moreover, few ratios of gemcitabine + fludarabine to mitoxantrone were antagonistic, which could be important for clinical translation. In conclusion, synergistic interactions with gemcitabine occurred with several drugs, the most promising being gemcitabine + fludarabine, gemcitabine + fludarabine + paclitaxel, and gemcitabine + fludarabine + mitoxantrone. These findings provided a rationale for clinical trials of gemcitabine + fludarabine and gemcitabine + mitoxantrone where responses were observed in heavily pretreated AML patients.
Shanks, RH; Rizzieri, DA; Flowers, JL; Colvin, OM; Adams, DJ
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