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Reduced cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin given in the form ofN-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide conjugates: an experimental study in the rat

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A rat model was used to evaluate the general acute toxicity and the late cardiotoxicity of 4 mg/kg doxorubicin (DOX) given either as free drug or in the form of threeN-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide (HPMA) copolymer conjugates. In these HPMA copolymers, DOX was covalently bound via peptide linkages that were either non-biodegradable (Gly-Gly) or degradable by lysosomal proteinases (Gly-Phe-Leu-Gly). In addition, one biodegradable conjugate containing galactosamine was used; this residue was targeted to the liver. Over the first 3 weeks after the i.v. administration of free and polymer-bound DOX, all animals showed a transient reduction in body weight. However, the maximal reduction in body weight seen in animals that received polymer-bound DOX (4 mg/kg) was significantly lower than that observed in those that received free DOX (4 mg/kg) or a mixture of the unmodified parent HPMA copolymer and free DOX (4 mg/kg;P<0.01). Throughout the study (20 weeks), deaths related to cardiotoxicity were observed only in animals that received either free DOX or the mixture of HPMA copolymer and free DOX; in these cases, histological investigations revealed marked changes in the heart that were consistent with DOX-induced cardiotoxicity. Sequential measurements of cardiac output in surviving animals that received either free DOX or the mixture of HPMA copolymer and free DOX showed a reduction of ≈30% in function beginning at the 4th week after drug administration. The heart rate in these animals was ≈12% lower than that measured in age-matched control rats (P<0.05). Animals that were given the HPMA copolymer conjugates containing DOX exhibited no significant change in cardiac output throughout the study (P<0.05). In addition, no significant histological change was observed in the hearts of animals that received DOX in the form of HPMA copolymer conjugates and were killed at the end of the study. However, these animals had shown a significant increase in heart rate beginning at 8 weeks after drug administration (P<0.01). This study demonstrates that covalent binding of DOX to HPMA copolymer conjugates via both stable and biodegradable peptidyl linkages considerably reduces both the general acute toxicity and the late cardiotoxicity of DOX in the rat and could offer the potential for improving the therapeutic index in the clinical application of DOX.

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Correspondence to Tai K. Yeung or Jiri Strohalm.

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Yeung, T.K., Hopewell, J.W., Simmonds, R.H. et al. Reduced cardiotoxicity of doxorubicin given in the form ofN-(2-hydroxypropyl) methacrylamide conjugates: an experimental study in the rat. Cancer Chemother. Pharmacol. 29, 105–111 (1991).

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  • Cardiac Output
  • Doxorubicin
  • Covalent Binding
  • Galactosamine
  • Histological Investigation