The experimental cytotoxic drug cyclopentenyl cytosine (CPEC) is an analogue of cytidine. Besides its antiviral effect, its potential use in the treatment of cancer has become an important area of research. CPEC is activated by intracellular phosphorylation ultimately forming its metabolite CPEC-TP. CPEC-TP is a non competitive inhibitor of cytidine-5-triphosphate synthetase (CTPsynthetase), an important enzyme in the formation of CTP. Studies have shown that cancer cells have a high CTP synthetase activity, thus making them interesting targets for chemotherapy. CPEC has been preclinically studied in different malignancy models. In vitro results on leukemia show activity in the nanomolar range on several cell lines. However in vivo results are conflicting and the findings vary from increase in life span over 100% to only limited effectiveness. Interesting results have been obtained in colorectal and neuroblastoma cells. In several neuroblastoma cell lines incubation with CPEC in combination with cytarabine or gemcitabine has resulted in increased cell death compared to incubation with with only one of the agents. CPEC has been studied in a phase I trial in patients with solid tumors. In five of 26 patients unexplained cardiotoxicity (extreme hypotension) occurred. The cardiotoxic effects could not be reproduced in animal models. However, precautions should be taken when using this drug in future clinical trials. Low dosage of CPEC seems necessary and intensive cardiac monitoring is advisable. In this manuscript, it is demonstrated that CPEC has an anti-cancer effect in several tumor models: CPEC might be a potentially useful drug in anticancer treatment.
Keywords: Cyclopentenyl cytosine, CPEC, cancer, leukemia, cardiotoxicity
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