Oxaliplatin: mechanism of action and antineoplastic activity

Semin Oncol. 1998 Apr;25(2 Suppl 5):4-12.


Oxaliplatin, a platinum-based chemotherapeutic agent with a 1,2-diaminocyclohexane (DACH) carrier ligand, has shown in vitro and in vivo efficacy against many tumor cell lines, including some that are resistant to cisplatin and carboplatin. The retention of the bulky DACH ring by activated oxaliplatin is thought to result in the formation of platinum-DNA adducts, which appear to be more effective at blocking DNA replication and are more cytotoxic than adducts formed from cisplatin. Studies by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) have suggested that oxaliplatin has a spectrum of activity different from that of either cisplatin or carboplatin, suggesting that it has different molecular targets and/or mechanisms of resistance. Oxaliplatin has been demonstrated to differ in some mechanisms associated with the development of cisplatin resistance. Compared with cisplatin-conditioned cells, deficiencies in mismatch repair (MMR) and increases in replicative bypass, which appear to contribute to cisplatin resistance, have not been shown to induce a similar resistance to oxaliplatin. A decreased likelihood of resistance development makes oxaliplatin a good candidate for first-line therapy. Studies also demonstrate additive and/or synergistic activity with a number of other compounds, however, suggesting the possible use of oxaliplatin in combination therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biotransformation
  • DNA Adducts
  • DNA Repair
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / chemistry
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Organoplatinum Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Oxaliplatin
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • DNA Adducts
  • Organoplatinum Compounds
  • Oxaliplatin