Recent studies have clarified the critical role that polyglutamylation plays in methotrexate (MTX) action. Polyglutamate derivatives of MTX bind to dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) with affinities comparable to the monoglutamate, but their retention in cells results in a sustained block in tetrahydrofolate (FH4) synthesis. One important element in the selectivity of MTX action is the preferential buildup and retention of these polyglutamyl forms in susceptible tumor cells as compared to host cells of the bone marrow or gastrointestinal mucosa. This selectivity in the accumulation of MTX polyglutamyl forms has now been further shown to play an important role in the selectivity of leucovorin rescue and may provide a unique new approach to nucleoside protection as well. This paper reviews the current understanding of the biochemical basis for leucovorin rescue and its selectivity. Important elements in leucovorin rescue are reactivation of DHFR with depression of cellular dihydrofolate (FH2) and provision of folate substrate to circumvent the block in FH4 synthesis. Selectivity of leucovorin rescue may be attributed to direct inhibition by MTX polyglutamyl forms, as well as FH2 polyglutamates that accumulate in their presence, at the levels of thymidylate synthase and transformylation during purine nucleotide biosynthesis. The presence of cellular MTX polyglutamates impairs reactivation of endogenous DHFR activity by leucovorin metabolites, and the resultant maintenance of high cellular levels of cellular FH2 and the polyglutamyl derivations of MTX impair the utilization of added FH4 in susceptible tumor cells. This paper also develop the concept of 'early' nucleoside protection in antifolate therapy. In this approach, nucleosides are administered simultaneously with a pulse of MTX to provide early host protection from the cytotoxic effects of modest doses of MTX. Cessation of protection occurs at a time when extracellular and intracellular monoglutamate has fallen to low levels, and the polyglutamyl forms of the drug are present in susceptible tumors but not in host tissues of the gut and bone marrow. Data are presented to demonstrate that increased doses of MTX can be administered in normal and tumor-bearing animal systems as well as in humans by this technique.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - 1987|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research