[6RS]Leucovorin (5-formyltetrahydrofolate; 5-CHO-H4PteGlu) administered in different regimens in combination with 5-fluorouracil (FUra) has increased the response rates to FUra in patients with colon adenocarcinoma. Using preclinical models of human colon adenocarcinomas as xenografts in immune-deprived mice, the effect of the rate of administration of racemic [6RS]leucovorin on the concentration-time profile of reduced folates in plasma, size of intratumor pools of 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolates (CH2-H4PteGlun) and tetrahydrofolates (H4PteGlun), and the distribution of their polyglutamate species have been examined.

Bolus injection i.v., or 4-h or 24-h infusion of [6RS]leucovorin (500 mg/m2) yielded similar concentration profiles of the biologically active [6S] and inactive [6R] isomers of 5-CHO-H4-PteGlu and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-CH3-H4PteGlu) in mouse plasma to those previously reported in humans, but with more rapid elimination half-lives (tv2 = 11 to 16 min, 23 to 41 min, and 30 to 35 min, respectively). Thus, reduced folates remained elevated in plasma during the period of [6RS]leucovorin administration. In HxELC2 and HxGC3 tumors, pools of CH2-H4PteGlun and H4PteGlun were increased from 350% to 700% of control, but only during [6RS]leucovorin infusion. Intracellular levels subsequently declined rapidly, similar to the loss of reduced folates from plasma. Increasing the rate of [6RS]leucovorin delivery by decreasing the time for administration from a 24-h to a 4-h infusion did not further increase the intratumor pools of CH2-H4PteGlun and H4PteGlun, suggesting saturation in the cellular metabolism of [6RS]leucovorin.

In HxGC3 tumors, CH2-H4PteGlu4–5 were elevated more rapidly than in line HxELC2, which accumulated predominantly a shorter chain length species following i.v. bolus injection. During the 4-h infusion schedule, di- and triglutamate species in particular accumulated in both tumors with no elevation in CH2-H4PteGlu5 until the infusion was discontinued, when this species increased as the shorter chain length forms were declining. However, during the 24-h infusion of [6RS]leucovorin, CH2-H4PteGlu3–5 were elevated in tumors. Since these species have been reported to increase the binding affinity of [6-3H]5-fluorodeoxyuridine monophosphate ([6-3H]FdUMP) to thymidylate synthase, and intratumor pools of CH2-H4PteGlun and H4PteGlun were elevated during the 24-h infusion of [6RS]leucovorin, this was considered to be the preferred schedule for administration. When FUra (6.25 to 25 mg/kg) was administered 3 h into a 24-h infusion of [6RS]leucovorin (500 mg/m2) in tumor-bearing mice, potentiation of thymidylate synthase inhibition in comparison with FUra administered alone was observed. These studies raise important questions regarding the effect of (a) dose of [6RS]-leucovorin, (b) frequency of administration, (c) utility of 5-CH3-H4PteGlu, and (d) [6R]5-CHO-H4PteGlu on influencing intratumor pools of CH2-H4PteGlun and H4PteGlun, the inhibition of thymidylate synthase by FUra, and FUra cytotoxicity in colon tumors under the in situ conditions of tumor growth.

1

Supported by National Cancer Institute Awards CA32613, CA23099, and Cancer Center Support (CORE) Grant CA21765; Center of Excellence Award, University of Tennessee; and American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities.

This content is only available via PDF.