Phase II study of dexverapamil plus anthracycline in patients with metastatic breast cancer who have progressed on the same anthracycline regimen.
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The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether metastatic breast cancer that has progressed on an anthracycline-containing drug regimen will subsequently respond to that identical regimen if dexverapamil, a modulator of P-glycoprotein-mediated drug resistance, is given concomitantly. Eligible patients received 180 mg/m2 dexverapamil every 6 h for 15 doses with the anthracycline administered 30 min after the seventh dose. Blood for dexverapamil levels was drawn before and 30 min after this dose. When possible, biopsies were obtained to measure mdr-1 expression by reverse transcription-PCR and by image cytometry. Of the 21 patients entered onto the trial, 20 were evaluable for response. There were two partial responses (10%) that both lasted for 6 months, and two additional patients had stable disease. Seven patients had asymptomatic cardiotoxicity consisting of hypotension (24%), bradycardia (5%), or prolongation of the P-R interval (14%). Two patients developed acute congestive heart failure, one on dexverapamil and one 10 days after stopping it. Dexverapamil did not seem to increase anthracycline toxicity. The median trough dexverapamil plus norverapamil level on day 3 was 1110 ng/ml (range, 186-3385 ng/ml), and the median peak level was 2164 ng/ml (range, 964-8382 ng/ml). There was poor correlation between reverse transcription-PCR and image cytometry for the level of mdr-1 expression. Because dexverapamil has been shown to affect doxorubicin pharmacokinetics subsequent to the initiation of this trial, it cannot be concluded that the responses seen were necessarily due to P-glycoprotein inhibition. Additional studies are necessary to determine whether mdr-1 modulators can reverse clinical drug resistance in breast cancer patients. The intrinsic cardiotoxicity of dexverapamil makes it less suitable for such studies than several other available agents.
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