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Continuous vincristine infusion as part of a high dose chemoradiotherapy regimen: drug kinetics and toxicity


A 5-day continuous infusion of vincristine (VCR; total dose 4 mg/m2) has been given as part of a high-dose chemoradiotherapy regimen with bone marrow transplantation. Evidence of neurotoxicity, such as weakness, paraesthesia and intestinal hypomotility, was evaluated prospectively in nine patients. Five patients had advanced neuroblastoma and four, relapsed sarcomas, and all had responded to initial conventional-dose therapy. VCR was combined with high-dose melphalan (180 mg/m2) and fractionated total-body irradiation. Plasma concentrations of VCR were measured by radioimmunoassay during and up to 24 h after the infusion. Serum and urine electrolytes and liver function tests were measured during VCR treatment and at regular intervals thereafter. VCR concentration at 1 h ranged from 1.8 to 10.9 (median 6.6) ng/ml, and a steady state was achieved by 13–30 h (median 16 h). Levels above 1 ng/ml were maintained throughout the 5-day period with a mean steady-state concentration of 1.7 ng/ml (range 1.3–2.15). After cessation of the infusion, serum concentrations fell to below 0.25 ng/ml within 24 h. Abdominal pain occurred in one patient, but neither constipation nor ileus was seen. In two patients severe muscle pain occurred in the lower limbs towards the end of the infusion. Significant electrolyte problems did not occur and, in particular, there was no evidence of inappropriate ADH secretion. Transient increases in liver enzymes were common but bilirubin was not elevated during the period of monitoring. This regimen allows a two-fold escalation in the dose of VCR to be administered, producing sustained high serum drug levels without major toxicity.

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Correspondence to C. R. Pinkerton.

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Pinkerton, C.R., McDermott, B., Philip, T. et al. Continuous vincristine infusion as part of a high dose chemoradiotherapy regimen: drug kinetics and toxicity. Cancer Chemother. Pharmacol. 22, 271–274 (1988).

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  • Vincristine
  • Drug Kinetic
  • Urine Electrolyte
  • Serum Drug Level
  • Chemoradiotherapy Regimen