Phase I study of the orally administered butyrate prodrug, tributyrin, in patients with solid tumors

Barbara A. Conley, Merrill J. Egorin, Nancy Tait, D. Marc Rosen, Edward A. Sausville, George Dover, Robert J. Fram, David A. Van Echo

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121 Scopus citations


Butyrates have been studied as cancer differentiation agents in vitro and as a treatment for hemoglobinopathies. Tributyrin, a triglyceride with butyrate molecules esterified at the 1, 2, and 3 positions, induces differentiation and/or growth inhibition of a number of cell lines in vitro. When given p.o. to rodents, tributyrin produces substantial plasma butyrate concentrations. We treated 13 patients with escalating doses of tributyrin from 50 to 400 mg/kg/day. Doses were administered p.o. after an overnight fast, once daily for 3 weeks, followed by a 1-week rest. Intrapatient dose escalation occurred after two courses without toxicity greater than grade 2. The time course of butyrate in plasma was assessed on days I and 15 and after any dose escalation. Grade 3 toxicities consisted of nausea, vomiting, and myalgia. Grades 1 and 2 toxicities included diarrhea, headache, abdominal cramping, nausea, anemia, constipation, azotemia, lightheadedness, fatigue, rash, alopecia, odor, dysphoria, and clumsiness. There was no consistent increase in hemoglobin F with tributyrin treatment. Peak plasma butyrate concentrations occurred between 0.25 and 3 h after dose, increased with dose, and ranged from 0 to 0.45 mM. Peak concentrations did not increase in three patients who had dose escalation. Butyrate pharmacokinetics were not different on days 1 and 15. Because peak plasma concentrations near those effective in vitro (0.5-1 mM) were achieved, but butyrate disappeared from plasma by 5 h after dose, we are now pursuing dose escalation with dosing three times daily, beginning at a dose of 450 mg/kg/day.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)629-634
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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