Anthracycline cardiotoxicity

Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2006 Nov;5(6):791-809. doi: 10.1517/14740338.5.6.791.


The use of anthracyclines is limited by dose-dependent cardiotoxicity. Three forms of anthracycline cardiotoxicity are described; an immediate pericarditis-myocarditis syndrome, an early onset chronic progressive CHF developing during or shortly after therapy and late-onset cardiotoxicity presenting years following treatment. A number of risk factors have been reported, including; cumulative dose, administration schedule, mediastinal radiotherapy, old and young age, concurrent cardiovascular disease, combination therapy, gender, ethnicity and chromosomal abnormalities. Evaluation of left ventricular ejection fraction has been widely adopted as a means of monitoring and assessing anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity. Biochemical markers and other techniques, such as endomyocardial biopsy, metaiodobenzylguanidine and indium-111-antimyosin scintigraphy are not routinely used. Methods employed to prevent cardiotoxicity include cumulative dose limitation, alteration of administration schedule, anthracycline analogues, liposomal formulations and the cardioprotective agent, dexrazoxane. With the growing number of paediatric malignancy survivors and the increasing use of anthracyclines in the adjuvant treatment of breast cancer, the cardiotoxicity associated with these agents will remain a formidable issue for physicians. Further work is required to identify patients at increased risk of cardiotoxicity and to develop novel methods of protecting and treating this adverse effect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthracyclines / administration & dosage
  • Anthracyclines / adverse effects*
  • Anthracyclines / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / administration & dosage
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use
  • Heart / drug effects
  • Heart Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Heart Diseases / prevention & control
  • Humans


  • Anthracyclines
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic