Procarbazine, a chemotherapeutic hydrazine, is thought to be metabolized to an alkylating species similar to methyl carbonium ion by multistep reactions involving cytochrome P-450, monoamine oxidase, and cytosolic enzymes. The DNA-damaging and cytotoxic potential of procarbazine and its metabolites in murine L1210 leukemia tumor cells in vitro was determined using alkaline elution techniques and extrapolation of growth curves. Neither procarbazine nor any of the chemical degradation products (except for the aldehyde derivative at high concentrations) caused significant amounts of DNA strand breakage. The primary enzymatic oxidation product, azo-procarbazine, did not produce strand breakage. However, exposure of the cells to either of the two isomers of azoxy-procarbazine led to significant DNA damage and cytotoxicity. DNA damage included both single-strand breaks and alkali-labile sites. At equimolar concentrations, the azoxy 2 isomer of procarbazine caused 14 to 20 times more DNA damage than did the azoxy 1 metabolite. When cell growth is expressed as percentage survival of L1210 cells, the azoxy 2 isomer was approximately 7-fold more toxic than the azoxy 1 metabolite. The other metabolites tested showed little or no cytotoxicity.
L1210 cells were shown to contain little or no cytochrome P-450 or monoamine oxidase activity, which may account for the lack of toxicity of the parent drug or the primary oxidative metabolite, azo-PCZ, to these cells. The conversion of procarbazine to the azoxy-procarbazine isomers in vivo must occur in cells which contain these enzymes, such as liver. However, the azoxy isomers of procarbazine were metabolized in L1210 cells, presumably leading to the DNA or cytotoxic damage observed.
Supported in part by American Cancer Society Grant BC336.