Inhibition of Anthracycline Alcohol Metabolite Formation in Human Heart Cytosol: A Potential Role for Several Promising Drugs

Alvaro Mordente, Andrea Silvestrini, Giuseppe Ettore Martorana, Daniela Tavian, Elisabetta Meucci Calabrese

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9 Citations (Scopus)


The clinical efficacy of anthracyclines (e.g., doxorubicin and daunorubicin) in cancer therapy is limited by their severe cardiotoxicity, the etiology of which is still not fully understood. The development of anthracycline-induced cardiomyopathy has been found to correlate with myocardial formation and accumulation of anthracycline secondary alcohol metabolites (e.g., doxorubicinol and daunorubicinol) that are produced by distinct cytosolic NADPH-dependent reductases. The aim of the current study is to identify chemical compounds capable of inhibiting myocardial reductases implied in anthracycline reductive metabolism in an attempt to decrease the production of cardiotoxic C-13 alcohol metabolites. Among the variety of tested compounds (metal chelators, radical scavengers, antioxidants, β-blockers, nitrone spin traps, and lipid-lowering drugs), ebselen, cyclopentenone prostaglandins, nitric oxide donors, and short-chain coenzyme Q analogs resulted in being effective inhibitors of both doxorubicinol and daunorubicinol formation. In particular, ebselen (as well as ebselen diselenide, its storage form in the cells) was the most potent inhibitor of cardiotoxic anthracycline alcohol metabolites with 50% inhibition of doxorubicinol formation at 0.2 mol Eq of ebselen with respect to doxorubicin concentration. The high efficacy, together with its favorable pharmacological profile (low toxicity, lack of adverse effects, and metabolic stability) portends ebselen as a promising cardioprotective agent against anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1691-1701
Number of pages11
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Anthracycline
  • alcohol metalites


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