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Bryostatin 1, a novel antineoplastic agent and protein kinase C (PKC) activator, has been found to induce myalgia (muscle pain) 48 h after administration in clinical trials. This is the dose-limiting toxicity and has restricted the duration of therapy in phase I trials. To investigate the mechanisms and try to increase toleration of the drug, we studied calf muscle metabolism of 14 patients at rest and during exercise and subsequent recovery using 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) before and 4 h, 48-72 h and 1-2 weeks following bryostatin therapy. In resting muscle there was a significant (P < 0.001) increase in the phosphodiester/adenosine 5'-triphosphate (PDE/ATP) ratio 48 h post bryostatin and in patients with myalgia compared with pre-bryostatin control studies. Following exercise, patients with myalgia showed significantly slower phosphocreatine (PCr) and ADP recovery half-time (P < or = 0.05) suggesting impaired mitochondrial (oxidative) energy production, possibly due to a direct effect on the mitochondria or secondary to reduced blood flow. The apparent proton efflux rate following exercise was significantly reduced 4 h after bryostatin (P < or = 0.05), suggesting reduced blood flow. The rate of post-exercise reoxygenation was studied in four patients by near-infrared spectroscopy 4 h post bryostatin. In three of these the rate was reduced, consistent with reduced muscle blood flow. Bryostatin 1 appeared to cause a long-lasting impairment of oxidative metabolism and proton washout from muscle, consistent with a vasoconstrictive action. Thus these studies provide evidence for two mechanisms of the dose-limiting toxicity for bryostatin. Prospective studies on the use of vasodilators to improve the tolerance of the drug should be carried out.


Journal article


Br J Cancer

Publication Date





998 - 1003


Adenosine Triphosphate, Adult, Aged, Antineoplastic Agents, Bryostatins, Energy Metabolism, Enzyme Activation, Female, Humans, Lactones, Macrolides, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Male, Middle Aged, Muscles, Pain, Protein Kinase C, Regional Blood Flow