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Effect of verapamil on doxorubicin activity and pharmacokinetics in mice bearing resistant and sensitive solid tumors

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The effect of the combined administration of verapamil (i.p. twice daily) and doxorubicin (i.v once weekly) was tested in mice bearing the following: (a) a tumor with induced resistance to doxorubicin (B16VDXR melanoma line); (b) a tumor inherently resistant (MXT mammary carcinoma); and (c) four solid tumors sensitive to doxorubicin (B16 melanoma, B16V melanoma line, M5076 reticulum cell sarcoma, and Lewis lung carcinoma). Verapamil, given according to this treatment schedule, reached peak plasma concentrations of 3 μM. Such treatment did not enhance doxorubicin activity on either inherently or induced resistant tumors, whereas it significantly enhanced doxorubicin growth inhibition in all the sensitive tumors except the Lewis lung carcinoma. Doxorubicin pharmacokinetics after administration of the drug alone and in combination with verapamil was analyzed after the first and repeated treatments in animals bearing B16 melanoma or its resistant subline B16VDXR. The resistance of the B16VDXR line was associated with the ability of the tumor to retain less doxorubicin (AUC=83 μg h/g) than the sensitive tumor B16 (AUC=204 μg h/g) in spite of similar initial levels. The potentiating effect of doxorubicin activity by, verapamil in B16 melanoma was not associated with increased doxorubicin levels or retention in the tumor, nor were differences in doxorubicin levels or retention found in the B16VDXR line. The combined treatment did not modify doxorubicin pharmacokinetics in plasma, heart, or spleen. These studies suggest that verapamil in vivo is ineffective in potentiating doxorubicin activity in tumors against which doxorubicin is inactive, that sensitive tumors are heterogeneous in their sensitivity to modulation by verapamil, and that this effect is not associated with modification of doxorubicin pharmacokinetics.

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Correspondence to Franca Formelli.

Additional information

This work was supported by grant no. 84.00855.44 of the Finalized Project “Oncologia” from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome

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Formelli, F., Cleris, L. & Carsana, R. Effect of verapamil on doxorubicin activity and pharmacokinetics in mice bearing resistant and sensitive solid tumors. Cancer Chemother. Pharmacol. 21, 329–336 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00264200

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  • Melanoma
  • Sarcoma
  • Doxorubicin
  • Verapamil
  • Peak Plasma Concentration