A predictable increase in the proliferative rate of malignant cells remaining after initial cytoreduction in vivo forms the rationale for timed sequential therapy (TST) with 1-B-D-arabinofuranosylcytosine (ara- C) for adult acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The relationship between in vivo leukemic cell growth, intracellular ara-C metabolism, and clinical response to ara-C-containing TST was evaluated by comparing AML marrow cell growth kinetic and biochemical pharmacologic determinants obtained before therapy (day 0) and at the predicted peak of in vivo postdrug residual tumor proliferation (day 8). Serial measurements of DNA synthesis and net intracellular ara-C metabolism demonstrated marked increases in both determinants in day 8 residual tumor when compared with the pretreatment cells for newly diagnosed adults achieving complete remission but not for TST-refractory patients. The interrelationship of AML cell proliferation and biochemical pharmacology together quantitate cytotoxicity measured by both achievement and duration of remission and serve to predict eventual clinical outcome in response to TST with ara-C where both growth and favorable pharmacokinetics are intrinsic to the success of the drug schedule.

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