Role of anthracyclines in the era of targeted therapy

Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2007;7(2):56-60. doi: 10.1007/s12012-007-0015-3.


Anthracyclines such as doxorubicin, epirubicin, and daunorubicin are among the most active cytoxic agents for treatment of a wide variety of solid tumors and hematological malignancies. The downside associated with chronic administration of anthracyclines is the induction of cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, usually refractory to common treatments. Anthracycline liposomal formulations are currently the best-known alternatives to improve the index and spectrum of anticancer activity of these drugs and decrease their cardiotoxicity. In the current target therapy era in oncology, anthracyclines increase the antitumor effects in more than additive fashion, being excellent partners for other active agents like taxanes and trastuzumab. It is important to note, however, that the enhanced antitumor activity of these combination therapies is often accompanied with increased cardiotoxicity. The issue of anthracycline cardiotoxicity has not been solved so far and it is also important to stress the current lack of proper prevention and treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthracyclines / adverse effects*
  • Anthracyclines / chemistry
  • Anthracyclines / pharmacology
  • Anthracyclines / therapeutic use*
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / adverse effects*
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / chemistry
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacology
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Heart Diseases / chemically induced
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Heart Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Liposomes
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*


  • Anthracyclines
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Liposomes