Phase I trial of high-dose tamoxifen as a modulator of drug resistance in combination with daunorubicin in patients with relapsed or refractory acute leukemia
Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
Drug Resistance, Multiple
Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute
Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma
Tamoxifen and its main metabolite N-desmethyltamoxifen (NDMTmx) have been shown to increase intracellular daunorubicin (DNR) levels in human leukemia cell lines that display the multidrug resistant (MDR) phenotype. We designed a phase I dose escalation study of Tmx (200-700 mg/day p.o. for 7 days) in combination with a fixed dose of DNR (50 mg/m2 intravenously on days 5, 6 and 7) in patients with advanced leukemia to determine whether this combination could be given safely and whether plasma levels of 10 microM, the effective in vitro MDR modulator concentration, could be achieved. Pharmacologic studies of Tmx, NDMTmx and DNR, and its main metabolite daunorubicin-ol (DNR-ol) were performed as was determination of P-glycoprotein (Pgp) using a monoclonal antibody that recognizes an external epitope of the molecule. A total of 14 patients (median age 50, range 22-67) were treated at the following dose levels: 200 mg/day: three patients; 400 mg/day: four patients; 550 mg/day: three patients; and 700 mg/day: four patients. Two patients with relapsed AML achieved remission. Toxicity of the combination was similar to that seen with DNR alone and no severe hepatic, cardiac or retinal toxicity was noted. Plasma Tmx levels approached 7 microM at the two highest dose levels studied; plasma levels of NDMTmx were slightly less. The area under the curve for DNR and its main metabolite daunorubicin-ol (DNR-ol) did not show significant changes with escalation of Tmx dose. This phase I study suggests that concentrations of Tmx high enough to reverse the MDR phenotype can be approached and that the combination of high-dose Tmx with a standard dose of DNR has an acceptable toxicity profile. More evaluation in phase II studies is necessary to define further its role as an MDR modulator.