Understanding and managing methotrexate nephrotoxicity

Oncologist. 2006 Jun;11(6):694-703. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.11-6-694.


Methotrexate (MTX) is one of the most widely used anti-cancer agents, and administration of high-dose methotrexate (HDMTX) followed by leucovorin (LV) rescue is an important component in the treatment of a variety of childhood and adult cancers. HDMTX can be safely administered to patients with normal renal function by the use of alkalinization, hydration, and pharmacokinetically guided LV rescue. Despite these measures, HDMTX-induced renal dysfunction continues to occur in approximately 1.8% of patients with osteosarcoma treated on clinical trials. Prompt recognition and treatment of MTX-induced renal dysfunction are essential to prevent potentially life-threatening MTX-associated toxicities, especially myelosuppression, mucositis, and dermatitis. In addition to conventional treatment approaches, dialysis-based methods have been used to remove MTX with limited effectiveness. More recently carboxypeptidase-G(2) (CPDG(2)), a recombinant bacterial enzyme that rapidly hydrolyzes MTX to inactive metabolites, has become available for the treatment of HDMTX-induced renal dysfunction. CPDG(2) administration has been well tolerated and resulted in consistent and rapid reductions in plasma MTX concentrations by a median of 98.7% (range, 84%-99.5%). The early administration of CPDG(2) in addition to LV may be beneficial for patients with MTX-induced renal dysfunction and significantly elevated plasma MTX concentrations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / pharmacology
  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Leucovorin / therapeutic use
  • Methotrexate / adverse effects*
  • Methotrexate / pharmacology
  • Methotrexate / therapeutic use
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency / chemically induced*
  • Renal Insufficiency / drug therapy
  • Renal Insufficiency / prevention & control
  • gamma-Glutamyl Hydrolase / therapeutic use


  • Antimetabolites, Antineoplastic
  • gamma-Glutamyl Hydrolase
  • Leucovorin
  • Methotrexate