A mathematical model of the kinetics of 5-fluorouracil and its metabolites in cancer patients

Christine Coustère, France Mentré, Jean Pierre Sommadossi, Robert B. Diasio, Jean Louis Steimer

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26 Scopus citations


A compartmental model of the kinetics of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and its catabolites in humans is proposed. This model was developed using data from a previous study in which plasma levels and urinary amounts of unchanged drug and metabolites were quantitated after i.v. bolus injection of 500 mg/m2 5-FU in ten patients. Biliary excretion was also quantified in two subjects. The different processes, biochemical transformations, and urinary and biliary excretion were adequately described by first-order kinetics. The technique of multiresponse modelling was used for global fitting of all data for each patient. Satisfactory agreement was achieved between measured and predicted values. This model enabled accurate avaluation of pharmacokinetic parameters that could not be adequately calculated using a model-free analysis. The total clearance and elimination half-life of 5-FU and its catabolites are reported for all subjects. The estimated mean half-life was 6.9±3.9 min for unchanged 5-FU and 225±352, 7.6±4, and 9.6±7.7 min, respectively, for the three measured catabolites dihydrofluorouracil (FUH2), α-fluoro-β-ureidopropionic acid (FUPA), and α-fluoro-β-alanine (FBAL). The percentage of anabolic, catabolic, urinary, and biliary elimination in total clearance was also quantitated. Anabolic clearance accounted for 39%±14% of total 5-FU clearance, with substantial variation occurring among patients. Urinary clearance represented 6.5%±3.2%, 0.8%±0.9%, 13.2%±4.7%, and 98.2%±2.5% of total clearance for 5-FU, FUH2, FUPA, and FBAL, respectively. The model was also satisfactorily fitted to the data of a patient deficient in dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase, an enzyme previously thought to be the rate-limiting step for 5-FU catabolism. In this case, catabolism was highly reduced and urinary excretion of 5-FU increased up to 64% of total drug clearance. This first global model of the kinetics of 5-FU and all of its catabolites in patients given an i.v. bolus infusion of 500 mg/m2 5-FU represents a further step toward detailed comprehensive modeling of the kinetics of this drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-129
Number of pages7
JournalCancer chemotherapy and pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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