Cardiac effects of mitoxanthrone therapy in patients with multiple sclerosis

Żanna Pastuszak, Kazimierz Tomczykiewicz, Renata Piusińska-Macoch, Adam Stępień
Kardiologia Polska 2016, 74 (4): 380-4

BACKGROUND: Mitoxanthrone (MTX) is a synthetic anthracycline antibiotic that has been used for several years in the treatment of patients with primary progressive, secondary progressive, and relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS) who do not respond to other drugs. MTX has antineoplastic, immunomodulatory, and antibacterial properties. The most common adverse effects of MTX include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, increased risk of urinary and respiratory tract infections, and amenorrhea. Less frequent problems include leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, anaemia, and an increase in hepatic enzyme and bilirubin levels. Other severe sequelae of MTX treatment are drug cardiotoxicity and a potential to induce leukaemia. Drug toxicity results from its affinity to iron ions. The resulting complex strongly induces formation of free oxygen radicals and increases lipid peroxidation. Asymptomatic reduction in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) by two-dimensional (2D) echocardiography, cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure have been observed in patients with MS at a rate of about 2.6-5%. Few studies evaluated cardiotoxicity of MTX in MS patients. Most previous studies were performed in small groups of cancer patients and cardiac evaluation was limited to physical examination.

AIM: To evaluate the effect of MTX treatment on LVEF by 2D echocardiography.

METHODS: We studied 72 MS patients aged 25-63 years who were treated with MTX in 2002-2014. The diagnosis of MS was made using the 2001 McDonald criteria updated in 2005. The study group included primary progressive MS in 40 (56%) patients, secondary progressive MS in 5 (7%) patients, and relapsing remitting MS in 27 (37%) patients. MTX was administered at 12 mg/m2 of body surface area every 3 months (up to the total dose of 140 mg/m2). MTX treatment was initiated in patients with no signs of heart failure on physical examination, normal electrocardiogram (ECG), normal LVEF by 2D echocardiography, and normal laboratory test findings including complete blood count and hepatic and renal function parameters. Each MTX administration was preceded by 2D echocardiography with LVEF measurement, ECG, and physical examination of the cardiovascular system. The effect of MTX treatment on LVEF was evaluated by comparing baseline LVEF with LVEF measurements before the last MTX dose. Statistical analysis was performed using the Student t test.

RESULTS: The mean LVEF before administration of the first MTX dose was 65 ± 3.3%. The lowest LVEF at the final 2D echo-cardiographic examination was 60 ± 2.1%. We did not find a significant LVEF reduction during MTX treatment in MS patients compared to baseline values. Severe myocardial dysfunction manifesting with significant LVEF reduction by 2D echocardiography or clinical evidence of heart failure was not noted in any patient in the study group.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study showed no significant LVEF reduction during MTX monotherapy in MS patients without a history of a cardiac disease and with normal echocardiographic findings at baseline. Long-term cardiac effects of MTX require further studies.

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