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Dacarbazine (DTIC) is a DNA-methylating drug used in the treatment of malignant melanoma. Among the DNA dducts induced by DTIC are N7-methylguanine (N7-meG) and O6-methylguanine (O6-meG). The latter adduct, in particular, may be important in the mutagenic as well as the cytotoxic activity of DTIC. Repair of O6-meG is carried out by the enzyme O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyltransferase (AGT) by a process which results in its autoinactivation. N7-meG is lost from DNA partly spontaneously and partly by enzymatic depurination followed by excision repair of the resulting apurinic site. The purpose of this study was to determine the in vivo kinetics of formation and repair of O6-meG and N7-meG and the changes in AGT in peripheral WBCs with repeated doses of DTIC, and to determine the effects on these processes of concomitant administration of hydroxyurea. In addition, we examined the induction of mutations at the HPRT gene locus. Thirty-four patients with malignant melanoma received 1.0 g/m2 DTIC i.v. every 3 weeks. Hydroxyurea was added to the second and subsequent doses of DTIC in 19 patients. The concentrations of O6-meG, N7-meG, and AGT in peripheral blood lymphocytes were determined up to 24 h after each of the first two doses of DTIC. Mutations at the HPRT gene locus were determined using the T-cell clonal assay. Peak O6-meG levels were detected 1 and 4 h after the first and second dose of DTIC, respectively. AGT concentrations declined to 56.7% (range, 40.3-76.9%) and 55.0% (range, 45.4-58.9%) of pretreatment levels 24 h after the first and second doses of DTIC, respectively, and were still approximately 25%below their initial levels just prior to administration of the second dose of DTIC. An increase in formation of O6-meG was observed at all time points after the second dose of DTIC (P = 0.0001), which was not affected by cotreatment with hydroxyurea (P > 0.5). There was a negative correlation between pretreatment AGT levels and the O6-meG concentration at 24 h after therapy (r = -0.554, P = 0.014). N7-meG levels peaked at 6 h after DTIC therapy and were not significantly influenced by the cycle number. Cotreatment with hydroxyurea tended to be associated with lower levels of N7-meG (P = 0.08). There was no correlation between either O6-meG or N7-meG levels and the grade of neutropenia. On the basis of a limited series of blood samples analyzed, there was no firm evidence that chemotherapy with DTIC resulted in induction of HPRT mutations in lymphocytes. In conclusion, repeated administrations of DTIC resulted in higher concentrations of O6-meG, probably due to reduction in cellular AGT. Hydroxyurea did not significantly influence the kinetics of O6-meG, and N7-meG adduct formation. There was no significant induction of HPRT gene mutations with DTIC. This study suggests that sequencing of DTIC doses should be evaluated using the time course of cellular AGT depletion and DNA adduct formation to achieve higher cytotoxic efficiency.


Journal article


Clin Cancer Res

Publication Date





303 - 310


Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, DNA Adducts, DNA Repair, Dacarbazine, Female, Guanine, Humans, Hydroxyurea, Hypoxanthine Phosphoribosyltransferase, Leukocytes, Male, Melanoma, Middle Aged, Mutation, O(6)-Methylguanine-DNA Methyltransferase