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Clinical and pharmacologic study of tributyrin: an oral butyrate prodrug

Abstract

Purpose

Butyrate is a small polar compound able to produce terminal differentiation and apoptosis in a variety of in vitro models at levels above 50–100 μM. Previously our group demonstrated that daily oral administration of the prodrug, tributyrin, is able to briefly achieve levels >100 μM. Given in vitro data that differentiating activity requires continuous butyrate exposure, the short t1/2 of the drug and a desire to mimic the effects of an intravenous infusion, we evaluated a three times daily schedule.

Patients and methods

Enrolled in this study were 20 patients with advanced solid tumors for whom no other therapy was available, had life expectancy greater than 12 weeks, and normal organ function. They were treated with tributyrin at doses from 150 to 200 mg/kg three times daily. Blood was sampled for pharmacokinetic analysis prior to dosing and at 15 and 30 min and 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5 and 4 h thereafter.

Results

The patients entered comprised 15 men and 5 women with a median age of 61 years (range 30–74 years). Prior therapy regimens included: chemotherapy (median two prior regimens, range none to five), radiation therapy (one), no prior therapy (one). There was no dose-limiting toxicity. Escalation was halted at the 200 mg/kg three times daily level due to the number of capsules required. A median butyrate concentration of 52 μM was obtained but there was considerable interpatient variability. No objective responses were seen. There were four patients with prolonged disease stabilization ranging from 3 to 23 months; median progression-free survival was 55 days. Two patients with chemotherapy-refractory non-small-cell lung cancer had survived for >1 year at the time of this report without evidence of progression.

Conclusion

Tributyrin is well tolerated and levels associated with in vitro activity are achieved with three times daily dosing.

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Correspondence to Martin J. Edelman.

Additional information

This work was supported by U01 CA 69854, awarded by the Division of Cancer Treatment, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, MD 20892, and was partially presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

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Edelman, M.J., Bauer, K., Khanwani, S. et al. Clinical and pharmacologic study of tributyrin: an oral butyrate prodrug. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 51, 439–444 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00280-003-0580-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00280-003-0580-5

Keywords

  • Butyrate
  • Histone deacetylase inhibitor
  • Differentiating agent