Simultaneous Determination of the Lactone and Carboxylate Forms of Irinotecan (CPT-11) and its Active Metabolite SN-38 by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography: Application to Plasma Pharmacokinetic Studies in the Rat

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HPLC, irinotecan, SN-38, lactone, carboxylate

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Irinotecan (CPT-11) and its main metabolite SN-38 are potent anticancer derivatives of camptothecin (CPT), with active lactone and inactive carboxylate forms coexisting. A simple and sensitive HPLC method using the ion-pairing reagent tetrabutylammonium hydrogen sulfate (TBAHS) was developed to simultaneously determine all four analytes in rat plasma samples. Camptothecin (CPT) was used as internal standard. The mobile phase was 0.1 M potassium dihydrogen phosphate containing 0.01 M TBAHS (pH 6.4)–acetonitrile (75:25, v/v). Separation of the compounds was carried out on a Hypersil C18 column, monitored at 540 nm (excitation wavelength at 380 nm). All four compounds gave linear response as a function of concentration over 0.01–10 μM. The limit of quantitation in rat plasma was 0.01, 0.008, 0.005 and 0.005 μM for CPT-11 lactone, CPT-11 carboxylate, SN-38 lactone and SN-38 carboxylate, respectively. The method was successfully used in the study on the effect of coadministered thalidomide on the plasma pharmacokinetics of CPT-11 and SN-38 in rats. Coadministered thalidomide (100 mg/kg body weight by intraperitoneal injection) significantly increased the AUC0–10h values of CPT-11 lactone and CPT-11 carboxylate by 32.6% and 30.3 %, respectively, (P < 0.01), but decreased the values by 19.2% and 32.4% for SN-38 lactone and carboxylate, respectively, (P < 0.05). Accordingly, the value of total body clearance (CL) of CPT-11 lactone was significantly lower in combination group compared to the control (1.329 versus 1.837 L/h/kg, P = 0.0002). Plasma t1/2β values for SN-38 lactone and carboxylate were significantly (P < 0.01) smaller in rats with coadministered thalidomide, as compared to rats receiving CPT-11 alone. Further studies are needed to explore the underlying mechanisms for the observed kinetic interaction between CPT-11 and thalidomide.

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Journal of Chromatography B, v. 821, issue 2, p. 221-228