Acute safety and pharmacokinetics of intravenous busulfan when used with oral busulfan and cyclophosphamide as pretransplantation conditioning therapy: a phase I study

Biol Blood Marrow Transplant. 2000;6(5A):548-54. doi: 10.1016/s1083-8791(00)70064-4.


The unpredictable intestinal absorption and erratic bioavailability of oral busulfan (Bu) has limited the drug's use in high-dose pretransplantation conditioning therapy. To standardize drug delivery, we solubilized Bu for parenteral use. This new intravenous (i.v.) Bu formulation was combined with oral Bu and cyclophosphamide (Cy) to evaluate (1) the human acute toxicity of i.v. Bu and its solvent system and (2) the pharmacokinetics of Bu in patients undergoing hematopoietic progenitor cell transplantation (HPCT). One dose of i.v. Bu (escalating from 0.08 to 0.8 mg/kg) was given over 2 hours by pump; 6 hours later, an oral Bu regimen was begun, consisting of 1 mg/kg every 6 hours for 15 doses, followed by Cy, 60 mg/kg daily for 2 days. After 1 day of rest, HPCT was performed. The i.v. Bu dose was well tolerated and did not produce any acute toxicity reaction that could be attributed to the solvent system of dimethylacetamide and polyethylene glycol (PEG)-400. All observed treatment-related toxicity was as would be expected after high-dose oral Bu plus Cy. When the i.v. Bu was used as reference solution, the pharmacokinetic analysis indicated an average bioavailability of oral high-dose Bu of 69%, ranging from <10% to virtually 100%. Further, the 2-hour infusion of i.v. Bu gave a time to maximum plasma concentration following drug administration similar to that of oral Bu (2 hours and 1.8 hours, respectively), and i.v. Bu had a clearance similar to that of oral Bu. Based on the data in this study, we suggest that the optimal (starting) dose of i.v. Bu (in combination with Cy) in our forthcoming phase 2 trial should be on the order of 0.8 mg/kg to target an area under the curve (AUC) of 1100 to 1200 micromol/L per minute. This would secure myeloablation and engraftment but save the vast majority of patients from the increased risk of serious hepatic veno-occlusive disease that has been reported when the AUC level exceeds 1500 micromol/L per minute. Bu administration via the i.v. route will assure complete bioavailability and reliable systemic drug exposure with more predictable blood levels and, therefore, possibly lower the risks for serious/life-threatening toxicity, graft rejection, and recurrent leukemia.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetamides / adverse effects
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Area Under Curve
  • Biological Availability
  • Busulfan / administration & dosage
  • Busulfan / adverse effects*
  • Busulfan / pharmacokinetics
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Drug Carriers / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polyethylene Glycols / adverse effects
  • Safety
  • Solvents / adverse effects
  • Transplantation Conditioning / adverse effects*


  • Acetamides
  • Drug Carriers
  • Solvents
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Busulfan
  • dimethylacetamide