Busulfan (1,4-butanediol dimethanesulfonate, BU) is relatively unique among other standard chemotherapy compounds in its ability to deplete noncycling primitive stem cells in the host and consequently to allow for high levels of long-term, donor-type engraftment after bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Such a property explains why this drug can be used as an alternative to total body irradiation in preparative regimes for BMT. However, as with radiation, BU conditioning is still troubled by severe toxicities that limit its applications to suboptimal drug doses. These problems stress the need for other BMT-conditioning drugs that are better tolerated and more selectively targeted toward normal and malignant hematopoietic stem cells. We have therefore compared the effects of various novel dimethanesulfonate compounds (related to BU) in terms of their toxicity to different stem cell subsets in vivo and in vitro and their ability to provide for long-term donor bone marrow engraftment using the congenic glucose-6-phosphate isomerase type 1 marker. Introduction of a benzene or cyclohexane ring in some of these drugs affords rigidity to the molecule and restricts the spatial positioning of the alkylating groups. Among 25 different compounds thus far tested at single doses, PL63 [cis-1,2-(2-hydroxyethyl) cyclohexane dimethanesulfonate] proved to be the most effective in providing for hematopoietic engraftment. The transisomer of the same compound gave significantly less engraftment and was comparable with the effects of dimethylbusulfan and Hepsulfam. The engraftment data correlated well with the depletion of different bone marrow stem cell subsets in the host as measured using the cobblestone area forming cell assay. The extent of stem cell depletion could not be explained on the basis of the distance and orientation of the two alkylating groups. Pharmacokinetic data, however, indicate that there is a correlation between biological activity and plasma levels reached. The diverse cytotoxic effects shown by these novel analogues of BU have provided a basis for relating biological activity with pharmacokinetic properties rather than with structural properties such as distance and orientation of the two alkylating groups. The identification of highly active compounds such as PL63 offers an opportunity for further developing other closely related drugs for potential application in clinical BMT conditioning therapy.

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Cancer Research
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Westerhof, G. R., Ploemacher, R., Boudewijn, A., Blokland, I., Dillingh, J. H., McGown, A. T., … Down, J. (2000). Comparison of different busulfan analogues for depletion of hematopoietic stem cells and promotion of donor-type chimerism in murine bone marrow transplant recipients. Cancer Research. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/9493