Doxorubicin and doxorubicinol pharmacokinetics and tissue concentrations following bolus injection and continuous infusion of doxorubicin in the rabbit

Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 1993;32(1):53-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00685876.


Cumulative dose-related, chronic cardiotoxicity is a serious clinical complication of anthracycline therapy. Clinical and animal studies have demonstrated that continuous infusion, compared to bolus injection of doxorubicin, decreases the risk of cardiotoxicity. Continuous infusion of doxorubicin may result in decreased cardiac tissue concentrations of anthracyclines, including the primary metabolite doxorubicinol, which may also be an important contributor to cardiotoxicity. In this study, doxorubicin and doxorubicinol plasma pharmacokinetics and tissue concentrations were compared in New Zealand white rabbits following intravenous administration of doxorubicin (5 by bolus and continuous infusion. Blood samples were obtained over a 72-h period after doxorubicin administration to determine plasma doxorubicin and doxorubicinol concentrations. Rabbits were killed 7 days after the completion of doxorubicin administration and tissue concentrations of doxorubicin and doxorubicinol in heart, kidney, liver, and skeletal muscle were measured. In further experiments, rabbits were killed 1 h after bolus injection of doxorubicin and at the completion of a 24-h doxorubicin infusion (anticipated times of maximum heart anthracycline concentrations) to compare cardiac concentrations of doxorubicin and doxorubicinol following both methods of administration. Peak plasma concentrations of doxorubicin (1739 +/- 265 vs 100 +/- 10 and doxorubicinol (78 +/- 3 vs 16 +/- 3 were significantly higher following bolus than infusion dosing. In addition, elimination half-life of doxorubicinol was increased following infusion. However, other plasma pharmacokinetic parameters for doxorubicin and doxorubicinol, including AUC infinity, were similar following both methods of doxorubicin administration. Peak left ventricular tissue concentrations of doxorubicin (16.92 +/- 0.9 vs 3.59 +/- 0.72 micrograms.g-1 tissue; P < 0.001) and doxorubicinol (0.24 +/- 0.02 vs 0.09 +/- 0.01 micrograms.g-1 tissue; P < 0.01) following bolus injection of doxorubicin were significantly higher than those following infusion administration. Tissue concentrations of parent drug and metabolite in bolus and infusion groups were similar 7 days after dosing. The results suggest that cardioprotection following doxorubicin infusion may be related to attenuation of the peak plasma or cardiac concentrations of doxorubicin and/or doxorubicinol.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Rabbits
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Doxorubicin
  • adriamycinol