Although 5-fluorouracil (FUra) is one of the most effective cytotoxic agents in the treatment of various solid tumors (carcinomas of the gastro-intestinal tract, breast, head and neck), remissions occur in only 20 to 30% of cases and usually are of short duration. Recently, preclinical studies have shown that the antitumor activity of FUra can be potentiated by modulating the metabolism of this drug by using other substances, in particular antifolates of folates. Pretreatment with antifolates may, by blocking de novo purine biosynthesis and consequently increasing phosphoribosyl pyrophosphate (PRPP) pools, enhance the conversion of FUra to active fluoronucleotide pools via orotate phosphoribosyltransferase. Methotrexate (MTX) pretreatment may also enhance binding of the fluoropyrimidine inhibitor, 5-fluodeoxyuridylate (FdUMP), to the target enzyme, thymidylate synthase (TS), indirectly by increasing dihydrofolate polyglutamates or directly, as MTX polyglutamates, by enhancing the formation of ternary complexes with FdUMP and TS. Exogenous folates, in particular 5-formyltetrahydrofolate (folinate, leucovorin, LV), can, by raising the intracellular levels of 5, 10-methylenetetrahydrofolate, lead to increased formation and stabilization of the ternary complex formed by TS, the folate coenzyme, and FdUMP. In vitro studies have also shown potentiation of FUra cytotoxicity by antifolates and folates against human lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines. Thus, while FUra may have little or no single agent activity in leukemias and lymphomas, it may be converted to an active drug in these neoplasms by appropriate modulation. Clinical studies of sequential MTX-FUra or combined LV-FUra based upon experimental tumor results reviewed herein, are warranted.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pharmacology (medical)
- Infectious Diseases