Purpose of review
Description of novel findings about the mechanism of action of mitotane and its activity as an adjunctive postoperative measure, or for treatment of advanced adrenocortical carcinoma.
Several in-vitro studies have shown that mitotane suppresses gene transcription of different enzymatic steps of the steroidogenetic pathway. Moreover, mitotane induces CYP3A4 expression, thus accelerating the metabolic clearance of a variety of drugs including steroids. Retrospective studies provided evidence that adjunctive mitotane can prolong recurrence-free survival of treated patients. The concept of a therapeutic window of mitotane plasma concentrations was confirmed also for adjunctive treatment, but the relationship between mitotane concentration and given dose is loose. Genetic variability of the P450-dependent enzymes metabolizing mitotane may explain individual differences.
Mitotane concentration of 14–20 mg/l should be reached and maintained during treatment also in an adjunctive setting. In advanced adrenocortical carcinoma, a high-dose starting regimen should be employed when mitotane is used as monotherapy. The combination of mitotane with other drugs should consider the possibility of pharmacologic interactions due to mitotane-induced activation of drug metabolism. This concept applies also to steroid replacement in mitotane-treated patients, who need higher doses to adjust for increased steroid metabolism.