Mechanisms of Selective Cytotoxicity of Adriamycin, Daunomycin and Related Anthracyclines

  • Herbert S. Schwartz
Part of the Topics in Molecular and Structural Biology book series (TMSB)


For the most part, this chapter is a brief deliberation on potential mechanisms of cytotoxic selectivity of Adriamycin and daunomycin (figure 1) in tumour cells in animals and in culture. It is no more than just a few reflections because we are unable to define with assurance any mechanisms that determine selectivity of these drugs in any target, whether tumour or normal cells, although recent lines of evidence may point to types of irreversible lesions that correlate with cell sensitivity and thereby may contribute to selective cytotoxicity. As a pragmatic decision, confining the text primarily to animal tumours and to tumours in culture limits the scope of this review but I have taken the liberty to range somewhat afield of the anthracyclines to examine related mechanisms of cell death and some aspects of drug cytotoxicity that might contribute to or detract from their clinical utility.

Figure 1

Structures of Adriamycin, daunomycin and some derivatives.


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