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The effect of hepatic enzyme inducers on busulfan neurotoxicity and myelotoxicity

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Anticonvulsants are commonly used empirically to prevent seizures in patients receiving high-dose busulfan in preparation for bone marrow transplantation. This study evaluates the effects of two anticonvulsants with enzyme-inductive properties, phenytoin and phenobarbital, and an enzyme inducer without anticonvulsant properties, Aroclor 1254, on the myelotoxicity and acute neurotoxicity of busulfan in a murine model. To assess the neuroprotective effects of these agents, we studied the effects of a single dose of 100 mg/kg i.p. busulfan, previously shown in this model to be uniformly lethal due to neurotoxicity. A significantly greater proportion of mice survived when pretreated with phenytoin or phenobarbital as compared with Aroclor 1254 pretreatment or an untreated control group. Busulfan myelotoxicity was studied in another group of mice treated with 135–150 mg/kg given in divided doses over 6 days. The proportion of animals surviving the otherwise myeloablative effects of this regimen were significantly improved by Aroclor 1254, high-dose phenytoin, and phenobarbital pretreatment. We conclude that anticonvulsants offer protection from the acute neurotoxicity of busulfan. However, these enzyme-inducing agents may reduce the myelosuppresive effects as well. These results suggest than an inducible enzyme system such as microsomal or glutathione S-transferases plays an important role in busulfan metabolism, warranting concern over concomitant administration of agents that either induce or inhibit these enzymes.

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Correspondence to Richard Ghalie.

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Fitzsimmons, W.E., Ghalie, R. & Kaizer, H. The effect of hepatic enzyme inducers on busulfan neurotoxicity and myelotoxicity. Cancer Chemother. Pharmacol. 27, 226–228 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00685717

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  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Neuroprotective Effect
  • Phenobarbital
  • Divided Dose
  • Enzyme Inducer