REVIEW Azacitidine (5-azacytidine) is a chemical analogue of the cytosine nucleoside used in DNA and RNA. Azacitidine is thought to induce antineoplastic activity via two mechanisms; inhibition of DNA methyltransferase at low doses, causing hypomethylation of DNA, and direct cytotoxicity in abnormal hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow through its incorporation into DNA and RNA at high doses, resulting in cell death. As azacitidine is a ribonucleoside, it incoporates into RNA to a larger extent than into DNA. The incorporation into RNA leads to the dissembly of polyribosomes, defective methylation and acceptor function of transfer RNA, and inhibition of the production of protein. Its incorporation into DNA leads to a covalent binding with DNA methyltransferases, which prevents DNA synthesis and subsequent cytotoxicity.
Cihak A: Biological effects of 5-azacytidine in eukaryotes. Oncology. 1974;30(5):405-22.
Kaminskas E, Farrell AT, Wang YC, Sridhara R, Pazdur R: FDA drug approval summary: azacitidine (5-azacytidine, Vidaza) for injectable suspension. Oncologist. 2005 Mar;10(3):176-82.
Leone G, Voso MT, Teofili L, Lubbert M: Inhibitors of DNA methylation in the treatment of hematological malignancies and MDS. Clin Immunol. 2003 Oct;109(1):89-102.
Ghoshal K, Bai S: DNA methyltransferases as targets for cancer therapy. Drugs Today (Barc). 2007 Jun;43(6):395-422.
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