Modulation of irinotecan metabolism by ketoconazole

D Kehrer, RHJ Mathijssen, Jaap Verweij, Peter de Bruijn, A Sparreboom*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: Irinotecan (CPT-11) is a prodrug of SN-38 and has been registered for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer. It is converted by the cytochrome P450 3A4 isozyme (CYP3A4) into several inactive metabolites, including 7-ethyl-10-[4-N-(5-aminopentanoic acid)-1-piperidino]-carbonyloxycamptothecin (APC). To investigate the role of CYP3A4 in irinotecan pharmacology, we evaluated the consequences of simultaneous treatment of irinotecan with a potent enzyme inhibitor, ketoconazole, in a group of cancer patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A total of seven assessable patients was treated in a randomized, cross-over design with irinotecan (350 mg/m(2) intravenously for 90 minutes) given alone and followed 3 weeks later by irinotecan (100 mg/m(2)) in combination with ketoconazole (200 mg orally for 2 days) or vice versa. Serial plasma, urine, and feces samples were obtained up to 500 hours after dosing and analyzed for irinotecan, metabolites (7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin [SN-38], SN-38 glucuronide [SN-38G], and APC), and ketoconazole by high-performance liquid chromatography.

RESULTS: With ketoconazole coadministration, the relative formation of APC was reduced by 87% (P =.002), whereas the relative exposure to the carboxylesterase-mediated SN-38 as expected on the basis of dose (area under the plasma concentration-time curve normalized to dose) was increased by 109% (P =.004). These metabolic alterations occurred without substantial changes in irinotecan clearance (P =.90) and formation of SN-38G (P =.93).

CONCLUSION: Inhibition of CYP3A4 in cancer patients treated with irinotecan leads to significantly increased formation of SN-38. Simultaneous administration of various commonly prescribed inhibitors of CYP3A4 can potentially result in fatal outcomes, and up to four-fold reductions in irinotecan dose are indicated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3122-3129
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2002

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  • EMC MM-03-86-08


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