Gemcitabine aerosol: in vitro antitumor activity and deposition imaging for preclinical safety assessment in baboons.

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 2006 Aug 19;58(2):237-44. Epub 2005 Nov 19.

Groupe de pneumologie Faculté de Médecine, INSERM, U618, IFR135, 37032 Tours, France.

Aim: To characterize gemcitabine aerosol, its in vitro activity against lung cancer cells, its deposition, and tolerance in a non-human primate model.

Methods: In vitro cytotoxicity of nebulized gemcitabine against NCI-H460 and A549 lung cancer cells was tested using a growth inhibition assay and compared with non-nebulized gemcitabine. The (99m)Tc-DTPA-radiolabeled gemcitabine aerosol was characterized by cascade impaction and the gemcitabine mass/(99m)Tc activity relationship was established for further quantitative nuclear imaging. Nine weekly inhalations at a target dose of 1 mg/kg body weight of gemcitabine were performed in three baboons using dynamic scintigraphic acquisitions for continuous monitoring of gemcitabine delivery during inhalation. Gemcitabine plasma concentrations were measured during the first inhalation.

Results: Growth inhibition assays for both NCI-H460 and A549 cells did not differ between nebulized and non-nebulized gemcitabine. Aerosol characterization showed a particle mass median aerodynamic diameter of 3.7+/-0.8 microm and a linear relationship between gemcitabine mass (y) and (99m)Tc activity (x) (y=0.82x - 10(-5), R (2)=0.88). No toxicity was observed after nine weekly inhalations of a mean dose of gemcitabine of 11.1 mg (88% of the target dose) as assessed from scintigraphic data. A dose-dependent peak plasma concentration of gemcitabine (20-74 ng/ml) was observed by the tenth minute of inhalation.

Conclusions: We have characterized a gemcitabine aerosol suitable for intrathoracic airway deposition and demonstrated that jet nebulization does not alter the cytotoxic properties of the drug. In a primate model, we have developed a scintigraphic procedure for the monitoring of aerosol deposition, and we have demonstrated the safety of nine weekly aerosol administrations of gemcitabine.

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August 2006
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