Toxicity and Pharmacokinetic Studies of Aerosolized Clinical Grade Azacitidine

Xuan Qiu, Yuanxin Liang, Rani S. Sellers, Roman Perez-Soler, Yiyu Zou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background Azacitidine as an effective epigenetic therapeutic agent has not been used as an aerosol form to treat lung cancer patients. We aerosolized clinical grade azacitidine (Aza), optimized the formulation, and studied its pharmacokinetics and toxicity in mice. Methods Extrusion-precipitation method and DNA methyltransferase inhibition rate were used to measure the aerodynamic size and aerosolized Aza activity. In the single dose pharmacokinetic study, Aza concentrations in peripheral blood and lungs were measured by LC-MS method. In the multiple-dose toxicity studies, histo-pathological evaluation was used to determine the organ and bone marrow toxicities. Results In pharmacokinetic study, aerosolized Aza was found to deposit mainly into the lung with very little drug detected in the circulation. In contrast, intravenously injected (IV) Aza resulted in a high Aza concentration in the peripheral blood, with trace amounts of drug in the lung, and it was associated with significant myelosuppression. No significant myelosuppression, pulmonary toxicity, hepatotoxicity, or nephrotoxicity were observed at a daily dose of 2.5 mg/m2 for 7 days. Reversible lung inflammation was found in mice treated with 7.5 mg/m2 aerosolized Aza at 3 but not 6 weeks after treatment. Conclusions Aerosol Aza aerodynamic size favors deposition of the drug to the human lower airways. The aerosol process do not compromise the drug activity. Aerosolized Aza has higher lung deposition and much less systemic toxicity than IV drug. The safe starting dose for clinical phase I trials should be 2.5 mg/m2 for 5 to 7 days.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-222.e1
JournalClinical lung cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Circulation drug levels
  • Demethylating agent
  • Inhalation
  • Lung deposition
  • Pulmonary and bone marrow toxicities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Cancer Research


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