Future oncology (London, England)

Pentostatin and purine analogs for indolent lymphoid malignancies.

PMID 16563086


Pentostatin has been shown to be active in a variety of B- and T-cell malignancies. The drug is a tight inhibitor of adenosine deaminase, a key degradative enzyme of purine metabolism present in all human tissues, with the highest levels found in the lymphoid system. Early clinical trials indicated that this agent was highly active in acute lymphoblastic leukemias with high intracellular adenosine deaminase levels. Relatively high doses of the drug were needed, which was associated with severe adverse events. Through the efforts of a few investigators, better tolerated, low-dose regimens have been shown to be extremely active in lymphoproliferative diseases with very low intracellular adenosine deaminase levels such as hairy cell leukemia, B- and T-cell chronic leukemias, T-cell cutaneous lymphomas and low-grade non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Clinical as well as experimental data have indicated that this drug induces lymphocyte-specific cytotoxicity, and myelosuppressive adverse events have been minimal. Although all the purine analogs have shown similar activity, the advantage of pentostatin is the relatively specific cytotoxicity against lymphocytes, which permits treatment even in patients with severe cytopenias. Although no direct comparisons of the purine analogs have been performed, pentostatin may be preferred due to this property.