Blood glucose levels in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma treated with sunitinib

Br J Cancer. 2008 Nov 4;99(9):1380-2. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604709. Epub 2008 Oct 7.


Sunitinib, a multitargeted tyrosine-kinase inhibitor, extends survival of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC) and gastrointestinal stromal tumours. Between October 2005 and March 2007, we retrospectively reviewed blood glucose level variations associated with sunitinib therapy in patients treated for mRCC. Nineteen of the patients had type II diabetes. All 19 patients had a decrease in blood glucose level (mean 1.77 mmol l(-1)) after 4 weeks of treatment. This was followed by re-elevation in the 2-week rest period. After two cycles of sunitinib administration, two patients had stopped blood glucose-lowering drugs whereas five other patients had normalised their blood glucose level. On the basis of pre-clinical data, we hypothesise that several mechanisms could be involved in this process, such as capillary regression of pancreatic islets, IGF-1 modulation through HIF1-alpha or NF-kappaB activation. In addition, a decrease of glucose uptake in the context of concomitant gastrointestinal toxicity cannot be excluded. Glycaemic control should be carefully evaluated in diabetic patients treated with sunitinib, and routine monitoring is warranted.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / blood
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Renal Cell / secondary
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indoles / pharmacology
  • Indoles / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / analysis
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / physiology
  • Kidney Neoplasms / blood
  • Kidney Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-kappa B / physiology
  • Pyrroles / pharmacology
  • Pyrroles / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sunitinib


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Blood Glucose
  • Indoles
  • NF-kappa B
  • Pyrroles
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Sunitinib