The successful outcome of ovarian cancer therapy with alkylating agents and cisplatin is seriously hampered by the development of acquired drug resistance. An increase in intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels in cancer cells is one of the major mechanisms involved. Depletion of GSH overcomes drug resistance and restores the chemosensitivity of malignant cells. Ifosfamide (IFEX), an alkylating agent, has been demonstrated to decrease intracellular GSH levels in vitro in malignant cell lines and in vivo in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBL) obtained from patients with cancer. We studied the effect of IFEX on intracellular GSH levels in PBL isolated from patients with advanced ovarian cancer who were receiving chemotherapy A total of 14 patients received IFEX plus mesna as a continuous infusion (1 g/m2 per day) for 6 consecutive days and cisplatin (100 mg/m2) as a 24-h continuous infusion on the 6th day. PBL were isolated prior to the initiation of chemotherapy and on the 3rd and 6th days of IFEX infusion. Intracellular GSH levels were determined by a modification of Tietze's method. IFEX caused a 20% or greater suppression of intracellular GSH levels in nine patients, eight of whom achieved complete remission of their disease. Six patients responded poorly to this chemotherapeutic regimen, five of whom showed no significant suppression of GSH levels. These data suggest that IFEX suppresses intracellular GSH levels in PBL from patients with ovarian cancer and that this suppression correlates closely with the subsequent clinical outcome.
- IFEX ifosfamide
- PBL peripheral blood lymphocytes