Metabolism and action of amino acid analog anti-cancer agents

Gurpreet S. Ahluwalia, Jean L. Grem, Zhang Hao, David A. Cooney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

206 Scopus citations


The preclinical pharmacology, antitumor activity and toxicity of seven of the more important amino acid analogs, with antineoplastic activity, is discussed in this review. Three of these compounds are antagonists of l-glutamine: acivicin, DON and azaserine; and two are analogs of l-aspartic acid; PALA and l-alanosine. All five of these antimetabolites interrupt cellular nucleotide synthesis and thereby halt the formation of DNA and/or RNA in the tumor cell. The remaining two compounds, buthionine sulfoximine and difluoromethylornithine, are inhibitors of glutathione and polyamine synthesis, respectively, with limited intrinsic antitumor activity; however, because of their powerful biochemical actions and their low systemic toxicities, they are being evaluated as chemotherapeutic adjuncts to or modulators of other more toxic antineoplastic agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-271
Number of pages29
JournalPharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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