New Targeted Drugs for Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Antifungals: Pharmacokinetic Challenges and Opportunities

Chemotherapy. 2023;68(3):170-182. doi: 10.1159/000530447. Epub 2023 Mar 31.


Background: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a life-threatening disease whose treatment is made difficult by a number of mutations or receptor overexpression in the proliferating cellular clones. Life expectancy of patients diagnosed with new, relapsed-refractory, or secondary AML has been improved by drugs targeted at such moieties. Regrettably, however, clinical use of new AML drugs is complicated by pharmacokinetic interactions with other drugs the patient is exposed to.

Summary: The most relevant drug-drug interactions (DDI) with clinical implications build on competition for or induction/inhibition of CYP3A4, which is a versatile metabolizer of a plethora of pharmacological agents. Here, we review DDI between AML drugs and the agents used to prevent or treat invasive fungal infections (IFI). The pathophysiology of AML, characterized by functionally defective white blood cells and neutropenic/immunosuppressive effects of concomitant induction chemotherapy, can in fact increase the risk of infectious complications, with IFI causing high rates of morbidity and mortality. Triazole antifungals, such as posaconazole, are strong inhibitors of CYP3A4 and may thus cause patient's overexposure to AML drugs that are metabolized by CYP3A4. We describe potential strategies to minimize the consequences of DDI between triazole antifungals and targeted therapies for AML and the role that collaboration between clinical pharmacologists, hematologists, and clinical or laboratory microbiologists may have in these settings.

Key messages: Therapeutic drug monitoring and clinical pharmacology stewardship could represent two strategies that best express multidisciplinary collaboration for improving patient management.

Keywords: Acute myeloid leukemia; Antimicrobial stewardship; Drug-drug interactions; Therapeutic drug monitoring; Triazoles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / genetics
  • Humans
  • Invasive Fungal Infections* / drug therapy
  • Invasive Fungal Infections* / etiology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / drug therapy
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Triazoles