In this article, we will discuss Oxaliplatin (Mechanism of Action). So, let’s get started.

Mechanism of Action

Oxaliplatin undergoes nonenzymatic conversion in physiologic solutions to active derivatives via displacement of the labile oxalate ligand. Several transient reactive species are formed, including monoaquo and diaquo DACH platinum, which covalently bind with macromolecules. Both inter and intrastrand Pt-DNA crosslinks are formed. Crosslinks are formed between the N7 positions of two adjacent guanines (GG), adjacent adenine-guanines (AG), and guanines separated by an intervening nucleotide (GNG). These crosslinks inhibit DNA replication and transcription. Cytotoxicity is cell-cycle nonspecific.

In vivo studies have shown antitumor activity of oxaliplatin against colon carcinoma. In combination with 5-fluorouracil, oxaliplatin exhibits in vitro and in vivo antiproliferative activity greater than either compound alone in several tumor models [HT29 (colon), GR (mammary), and
L1210 (leukemia)].


The reactive oxaliplatin derivatives are present as a fraction of the unbound platinum in plasma ultrafiltrate. The decline of ultrafilterable platinum levels following oxaliplatin administration is triphasic, characterized by two relatively short distribution phases (t1/2α; 0.43 hours and t1/2β; 16.8 hours) and a long terminal elimination phase (t1/2γ; 391 hours). Pharmacokinetic parameters obtained after a single 2-hour intravenous infusion of oxaliplatin at a dose of 85 mg/m² expressed as ultrafilterable platinum were Cmax of 0.814 mcg /mL and volume of distribution of 440 L. Interpatient and intrapatient variability in ultrafilterable platinum exposure (AUC0-48hr) assessed over 3 cycles was moderate to low (23% and 6%, respectively). A pharmacodynamic relationship between platinum ultrafiltrate levels and clinical safety and effectiveness has not been established.


At the end of a 2-hour infusion of oxaliplatin, approximately 15% of the administered platinum is present in the systemic circulation. The remaining 85% is rapidly distributed into tissues or eliminated in the urine. In patients, plasma protein binding of platinum is irreversible and is greater than 90%. The main binding proteins are albumin and gamma-globulins. Platinum also binds irreversibly and accumulates (approximately 2-fold) in erythrocytes, where it appears to have no relevant activity. No platinum accumulation was observed in plasma ultrafiltrate following 85 mg/m² every two weeks.


Oxaliplatin undergoes rapid and extensive nonenzymatic biotransformation. There is no evidence of cytochrome P450-mediated metabolism in vitro. Up to 17 platinum-containing derivatives have been observed in plasma ultrafiltrate samples from patients, including several cytotoxic species (monochloro DACH platinum, dichloro DACH platinum, and monoaquo and diaquo DACH platinum) and a number of noncytotoxic, conjugated species.


The major route of platinum elimination is renal excretion. At five days after a single 2-hour infusion of Oxaliplatin, urinary elimination accounted for about 54% of the platinum eliminated, with fecal excretion accounting for only about 2%. Platinum was cleared from plasma at a rate (10 – 17 L/h) that was similar to or exceeded the average human glomerular filtration rate (GFR; 7.5 L/h). There was no significant effect of gender on the clearance of ultrafilterable platinum. The renal clearance of ultrafilterable platinum is significantly correlated with GFR.

Pharmacokinetics in Special Populations 

Renal Impairment

A study was conducted in 38 patients with advanced GI cancer and varying degrees of renal impairment. Patients in the normal (creatinine clearance (CrCL) > 80 mL/min, N=11), mild (CrCL=50-80 mL/min, N=13), and moderate (CrCL=30-49 mL/min, N=10) groups were treated with 85 mg/m² Oxaliplatin and those in the severe (CrCL < 30 mL/min, N=4) group were treated with 65 mg/m² ELOXATIN. The mean AUC of unbound platinum was 40%, 95%, and 342% higher in the mild, moderate, and severe groups, respectively, than in the normal group. Mean Cmax of unbound platinum appeared to be similar among the normal, mild and moderate renal function groups, but was 38% higher in the severe group than in the normal group. Caution should be exercised in renally impaired patients. The starting dose of Oxaliplatin should be reduced in patients with severe renal impairment.

Drug – Drug Interactions

No pharmacokinetic interaction between 85 mg/m² of Oxaliplatin and infusional 5-fluorouracil has been observed in patients treated every 2 weeks, but increases of 5-fluorouracil plasma concentrations by approximately 20% have been observed with doses of 130 mg/m² of Oxaliplatin administered every 3 weeks. In vitro, platinum was not displaced from plasma proteins by the following medications: erythromycin, salicylate, sodium valproate, granisetron, and paclitaxel. In vitro, oxaliplatin is not metabolized by, nor does it inhibit, human cytochrome P450 isoenzymes. No P450-mediated drug-drug interactions are therefore anticipated in patients. Since platinum-containing species are eliminated primarily through the kidney, clearance of these products may be decreased by co-administration of potentially nephrotoxic compounds, although this has not been specifically studied.

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