Conversion of the prodrug etoposide phosphate to etoposide in gastric juice and bile

RS deJong, EAM Slijfer, DRA Uges, NH Mulder, EGE deVries

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Etoposide phosphate is a water-soluble prodrug of etoposide. It was expected that this prodrug could be used to overcome the solubility limitations and erratic bioavailability of oral etoposide. To investigate the possibility of prodrug conversion to etoposide within the gastrointestinal lumen, etoposide phosphate was dissolved in water and incubated with human gastric juice or human bile in vitro. Samples were collected during 150 min and analysed for etoposide concentration with high-performance liquid chromatography. Conversion of prodrug to etoposide during incubation with gastric juice was negligible. There was significant conversion during incubation with bile at pH 7-8. The percentage of prodrug converted to etoposide at pH 8 after 60 min was 78 +/- 18% (mean +/- S.D.) for a 0.1 mg ml(-1) prodrug solution and 36 +/- 26% for 0.5 mg ml(-1). At pH 7, after 60 min 22% of prodrug was converted to etoposide when incubated at 0.1 mg ml(-1) and 10% at 0.5 mg ml(-1). No conversion was found after inactivation of alkaline phosphate (AP) by overnight heating of bile at 65 degrees C or by the addition of disodium edetate to the bile. In conclusion, because of AP in bile, variable conversion of etoposide phosphate to etoposide can be expected within the intestinal lumen after oral administration. This could have important pharmacokinetic consequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1480-1483
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Jounal of Cancer
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Dec-1997


  • alkaline phosphatase
  • bile
  • etoposide phosphate
  • gastric juice
  • pharmacology
  • prodrug
  • PH

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