Purpose: Phenylbutyrate (PB) is an aromatic fatty acid with multiple mechanisms of action including histone deacetylase inhibition. Preclinically, PB demonstrates both cytotoxic and differentiating effects at a concentration of 0.5 mM. We conducted a Phase I trial of p.o. PB patients with refractory solid tumor malignancies to evaluate toxicity, pharmacokinetic parameters, and feasibility of p.o. administration.
Experimental design: Twenty-eight patients with refractory solid tumor malignancies were enrolled on this dose-escalation to maximally tolerated dose trial. Five dose levels of PB were studied: 9 g/day (n = 4), 18 g/day (n = 4), 27 g/day (n = 4), 36 g/day (n = 12), and 45 g/day (n = 4). Pharmacokinetic studies were performed and included an p.o. bioavailability determination. Compliance data were also collected.
Results: The recommended Phase II dose is 27 g/day. Overall the drug was well tolerated with the most common toxicities being grade 1-2 dyspepsia and fatigue. Nonoverlapping dose-limiting toxicities of nausea/vomiting and hypocalcemia were seen at 36 g/day. The p.o. bioavailability of PB was 78% for all dose levels, and the biologically active concentration of 0.5 mM was achieved at all dose levels. Compliance was excellent with 93.5% of all possible doses taken. No partial remission or complete remission was seen, but 7 patients had stable disease for more than 6 months while on the drug.
Conclusions: PB (p.o.) is well tolerated and achieves the concentration in vivo that has been shown to have biological activity in vitro. PB may have a role as a cytostatic agent and should be additionally explored in combination with cytotoxics and other novel drugs.