Development of cytarabine prodrugs and delivery systems for leukemia treatment

Bhupender S. Chhikara, Keykavous Parang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Importance of the field: Cytarabine is a polar nucleoside drug used for the treatment of myeloid leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The drug has a short plasma half-life, low stability and limited bioavailability. Overdosing of patients with continuous infusions may lead to side effects. Thus, various prodrug strategies and delivery systems have been explored extensively to enhance the half-life, stability and delivery of cytarabine. Among the recent cytarabine prodrugs, amino acid conjugate ValCytarabine and fatty acid derivative CP-4055 (in Phase III trials) have been investigated for the treatment of leukemia and solid tumors, respectively. Alternatively, delivery systems of cytarabine have emerged for the treatment of different cancers. The liposomal-cytarabine formulation (DepoCyt®, Pacira Pharmaceuticals Inc., New Jersey, USA) has been approved for the treatment of lymphomatous meningitis. Areas covered in this review: Various prodrug strategies evaluated for cytarabine are discussed. Then, the review summarizes the drug delivery systems that have been used for more effective cancer therapy. What the reader will gain: This review provides in-depth discussion of the prodrug strategy and delivery systems of cytarabine derivatives for the treatment of cancer. The design of cytarabine prodrugs and delivery systems provides insights for designing the next generation of more effective anticancer agents with enhanced delivery and stability. Take home message: Strategies on designing cytarabine prodrug and delivery formulations showed great promise in developing effective anticancer agents with better therapeutic profile. Similar studies with other anticancer nucleosides can be an alternative approach to gaining access to more effective anticancer agents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1399-1414
Number of pages16
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Delivery
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • amino acid
  • arabinofuranosylcytosine
  • araC
  • chitosan
  • cytarabine
  • delivery system
  • fatty acid-cytarabine
  • liposome
  • nanoparticle
  • prodrug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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