Background: Cisplatin is a major antineoplastic drug for the treatment of solid tumors, but it has dose-dependent renal toxicity.
Methods: We reviewed clinical and experimental literature on cisplatin nephrotoxicity to identify new information on the mechanism of injury and potential approaches to prevention and/or treatment.
Results: Unbound cisplatin is freely filtered at the glomerulus and taken up into renal tubular cells mainly by a transport-mediated process. The drug is at least partially metabolized into toxic species. Cisplatin has multiple intracellular effects, including regulating genes, causing direct cytotoxicity with reactive oxygen species, activating mitogen-activated protein kinases, inducing apoptosis, and stimulating inflammation and fibrogenesis. These events cause tubular damage and tubular dysfunction with sodium, potassium, and magnesium wasting. Most patients have a reversible decrease in glomerular filtration, but some have an irreversible decrease in glomerular filtration. Volume expansion and saline diuresis remain the most effective preventive strategies.
Conclusions: Understanding the mechanisms of injury has led to multiple approaches to prevention. Furthermore, the experimental approaches in these studies with cisplatin are potentially applicable to other drugs causing renal dysfunction.