The active metabolite of irinotecan (CPT-11), 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN-38), is either formed through enzymatic cleavage of CPT-11 by carboxyl esterases (CEs) or through cytochrome P-450 3A-mediated oxidation to 7-ethyl-10-[4-(1-piperidino)-1-amino] carbonyloxycamptothecin (NPC) and a subsequent conversion by CE. In the liver, SN-38 is glucuronidated (SN-38G) by UGT1A1, which also conjugates bilirubin. Fourteen patients were treated with 350 mg/m2 CPT-11, and we performed pharmacokinetic analysis during a 500-h collection period. The half-life and area under the plasma concentration-time curve of SN-38 were 47+/-7.9 h and 2.0+/-0.79 microM x h, respectively, both representing a 2-fold increase as compared with earlier reported estimates (A. Sparreboom et al, Clin. Cancer Res., 4: 2747-2754, 1998). As an explanation for this phenomenon, we noted substantial formation of SN-38 from CPT-11 and NPC by plasma CE, consistent with the low circulating levels of NPC observed. In addition, transport studies in Caco-2 monolayers indicated that nonglucuronidated SN-38 could cross the membrane from apical to basolateral, indicating the potential for recirculation processes that can prolong circulation times. Interestingly, individual levels of fecal beta-glucuronidase, which is known to mediate SN-38G hydrolysis, were not related to any of the SN-38 kinetic parameters (r = 0.09; P = 0.26), suggesting that interindividual variation in this enzyme is unimportant in explaining SN-38 pharmacokinetic variability. We have also found, in contrast to earlier data, that SN-38G/SN-38 plasma concentration ratios decrease over time from approximately 7 (up to 50 h) to approximately 1 (at 500 h). This decrease could be explained by the fact that glucuronidation of SN-38 and bilirubin is increasingly competitive at lower drug levels. In addition, no evidence was found for SN-38G transport through the Caco-2 cells. Our findings indicate that until now the circulation time of SN-38 has been underestimated. This is of crucial importance to our understanding of the clinical action of CPT-11 and for future pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic relationships.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Clinical Cancer Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kehrer, D., Yamamoto, W., Verweij, J., de Jonge, M., de Bruijn, P., & Sparreboom, A. (2000). Factors involved in prolongation of the terminal disposition phase of SN-38: clinical and experimental studies. Clinical Cancer Research. Retrieved from