Inactivation of anthracyclines by cellular peroxidase

Krzysztof J. Reszka, Brett A. Wagner, Lynn M. Teesch, Bradley E. Britigan, Douglas R. Spitz, C. Patrick Burns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The anticancer anthracyclines, doxorubicin and daunorubicin, are highly cytotoxic to both cancer and normal cells. In this work, we have investigated the capacity of cellular myeloperoxidase to inactivate these agents. We show that incubation of human leukemia HL-60 cells with the anthracyclines in the presence of hydrogen peroxide and nitrite causes irreversible oxidation of the drugs, suggesting an extensive modification of their chromophores. Methimazole, 4-amino-benzoic acid hydrazide, or azide inhibits the reaction, suggesting that it is mediated by the cellular myeloperoxidase, an enzyme naturally present in large amounts in HL-60 cells. In contrast to the intact drugs, the oxidatively transformed anthracyclines were substantially less cytotoxic for HL-60 (assayed by apoptosis) and PCS prostate cancer cells and H9c2 rat cardiac myoblasts in vitro (assayed by clonogenic survival), indicating that the oxidative metabolism of these agents leads to their inactivation. Using tandem mass spectrometry, we identified two specific metabolic products of the anthracycline degradation, 3-methoxyphthalic acid and 3-methoxysalicylic acid. These two metabolic products were obtained as authentic compounds and were nontoxic to HL-60 leukemic cells and cardiac myocytes. These findings may have important implications for the cellular pharmacology of anthracyclines and for clinical oncology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6346-6353
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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