The antiestrogen tamoxifen and the aromatase inhibitor aminoglutethimide show similar response rates when used in the endocrine management of advanced breast cancer. However, numerous clinical trials have demonstrated no increase in response rate from treatment with the drug combination of tamoxifen plus aminoglutethimide. We investigated the possibility of a pharmacokinetic interaction between these two drugs in six menopausal woman with breast cancer. All patients were investigated under three different conditions (termed phases A, B, and C). The steady state kinetics of tamoxifen were determined when administered alone (phase A) and after coadministration of aminoglutethimide for 6 weeks (phase B). In phase B, the pharmacokinetics for aminoglutethimide were determined and compared with these parameters after a tamoxifen washout of 6 weeks (phase C). The serum concentration of tamoxifen and most of its metabolites {[trans-1(4-β-hydroxy-ethoxyphenyl)-1,2-diphenylbut-1-ene], 4-hydroxytamoxifen, 4-hydroxy-N-desmethyltamoxifen, N-desmethyltamoxifen, and N-desdimethyltamoxifen} were markedly reduced following aminoglutethimide administration, corresponding to an increase in tamoxifen clearance from 189–608 ml/min. The amount of most metabolites in serum increased relative to the amount of parent tamoxifen. These data are consistent with induction of tamoxifen metabolism during aminoglutethimide exposure. We found no effect of tamoxifen on aminoglutethimide pharmacokinetics or acetylation. We conclude that this aminoglutethimide-tamoxifen interaction should be taken into account when evaluating the clinical effect of this drug combination relative to monotherapy.


This work was supported by grants from the Norwegian Cancer Society and the Torsteds legat.

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