The administration of calcium leucovorin, either concurrently or after high dosages of methotrexate in L1210 leukemic mice, has both pharmacokinetic and biochemical effects in tumor cells and drug-limiting proliferative normal tissue in small intestine. A reduction in the maximal level of accumulation and retention of exchangeable drug (unbound to dihydrofolate reductase) in tissue could be demonstrated when calcium leucovorin was given simultaneously with methotrexate at equal or greater dosages than the latter. The dose dependence for calcium leucovorin-induced drug loss is similar in both tissues and showed the expected variation when the time interval between methotrexate and calcium leucovorin doses was increased. With 400 mg methotrexate per kg, >96 mg calcium leucovorin per kg were required maximally to affect overall drug retention in tissue 2 hr after drug, whereas only 24 mg calcium leucovorin per kg were required 16 hr after drug.

Calcium leucovorin, given after methotrexate, induced synchronous recovery of DNA synthesis (measured by labeled deoxyuridine incorporation) in both small intestine and L1210 cells. An initial cycle of synthesis was induced in the presence of exchangeable levels of drug. Two hr after methotrexate, 12 mg/kg, calcium leucovorin induced an immediate but only partial (20 to 25% of control rate) recovery of synthesis with dose dependence from 3 to 12 mg calcium leucovorin per kg. Less synthesis was induced after 96 mg/kg and almost none after methotrexate, 400 mg/kg. With calcium leucovorin, 24 mg/kg, given 2 hr after methotrexate, 12 or 96 mg/kg, a major cycle of synthesis occurred when total drug levels approached the equivalence of the dihydrofolate reductase content. The magnitude of this cycle of synthesis in both L1210 cells and small intestine was the same as that seen in animals recovering from methotrexate alone. However, this is based on the assumption that an approximately equivalent relationship between DNA synthesis and labeled doexyuridine incorporation in each tissue during the period of maximal incorporation within the cycle. The major effect of calcium leucovorin, then, was to induce an earlier resumption of DNA synthesis as a consequence of the pharmacokinetic effect in each tissue. With calcium leucovorin, 24 or 400 mg/kg, given 16 hr after methotrexate, an identical effect on drug retention was observed in both L1210 cells and small intestine. Although there was a difference in the time course for recovery in small intestine at each dosage of calcium leucovorin, the recovery of DNA synthesis as drug levels approached the dihydrofolate reductase content was similar in magnitude. In L1210 cells, however, substantial recovery of synthesis to a comparable level and with a similar time-course occurred only after leucovorin, 400 mg/kg. Little or no recovery of DNA synthesis was observed after calcium leucovorin, 24 mg/kg, during the same time period. This dosage schedule (methotrexate, 400 mg/kg, s.c. followed 16 hr later by calcium leucovorin, 24 mg/kg s.c.) administered once gave a 2-log leukemia cell kill and prevented lethal toxicity in most of the animals.


Supported in part by Grants CA 08748 and RO1-CA-16153 from the National Cancer Institute and Grant 132A from the American Cancer Society.

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