Piroxantrone is an anthrapyrazole derivative with broad antitumor activity in vitro. In previous phase I trials, the dose-limiting toxicity of this agent was myelosuppression. Therefore, a phase I and pharmacokinetic study of a 1-h infusion of piroxantrone in combination with granulocyte-colony stimulating factor was conducted. In this article, we report the results of the pharmacokinetic analysis. Thirty-seven patients were studied over a dosage range of 150 to 555 mg/m2. The plasma elimination of piroxantrone was biexponential with a mean (± SD) t1/2α of 3.2 ± 2.7 min and a mean (± SD) t1/2β of 82 ± 92 min. Clearance was 840 ± 230 ml/min/m2. A limited sampling strategy was developed to allow the estimation of total drug exposure (area under the plasma concentration-time curve) from the plasma piroxantrone concentrations at 30, 60, and 120 min after the start of the infusion. The pharmacokinetic behavior of a presumed piroxantrone metabolite not previously decribed in plasma was also characterized. Based on in vitro cytotoxicity studies with partially purified extract of this compound, we do not believe that it contributes to the antitumor effects of piroxantrone at the concentrations observed in plasma. Finally, piroxantrone elimination was linear over the nearly 4-fold dose range studied, indicating that when dose adjustments are made, systemic drug exposure will remain predictable.

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