The effect of n-acetylcysteine on the antitumor activity of ifosfamide

Nancy Chen, Lauren Hanly, Michael Rieder, Herman Yeger, Gideon Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Ifosfamide-induced nephrotoxicity is a serious adverse effect in children undergoing chemotherapy. Our previous cell and rodent models have shown that the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC), used extensively as an antidote for acetaminophen poisoning, protects renal tubular cells from ifosfamide-induced nephrotoxicity at a clinically relevant concentration. For the use of NAC to be clinically relevant in preventing ifosfamide nephrotoxicity, we must ensure there is no effect of NAC on the antitumor activity of ifosfamide. Common pediatric tumors that are sensitive to ifosfamide, human neuroblastoma SK-N-BE(2) and habdomyosarcoma RD114-B cells, received either no pretreatment or pretreatment with 400 μmol/L of NAC, followed by concurrent treatment with NAC and either ifosfamide or the active agent ifosfamide mustard. Ifosfamide mustard significantly decreased the growth of both cancer cell lines in a dose-dependent manner (p < 0.001). The different combined treatments of NAC alone, sodium 2-mercaptoethanesulfonate alone, or NAC plus sodium 2-mercaptoethanesulfonate did not significantly interfere with the tumor cytotoxic effect of ifosfamide mustard. These observations suggest that NAC may improve the risk/benefit ratio of ifosfamide by decreasing ifosfamide-induced nephrotoxicity without interfering with its antitumor effect in cancer cells clinically treated with ifosfamide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-343
Number of pages9
JournalCanadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Antitumor activity
  • Ifosfamide
  • N-acetylcysteine
  • Nephrotoxicity
  • Pediatric tumors


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