Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue: Anthracenedione Agents for Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

Koffman, Boyd M. MD, PhD; Hacker, Miles PhD; Gunning, William T. III PhD, FMSA; Quinn, Anthony PhD

doi: 10.1097/WNF.0000000000000137
Review Articles

Objective This study aimed to present anthracenedione agents that have been used to treat multiple sclerosis (MS), problems related to their use, and knowledge gained from our experiences using these agents to develop more efficacious drugs with fewer adverse effects.

Methods We review preclinical and clinical data during the development mitoxantrone, an anthracycline, for the treatment of MS; benefits and potential risks; and strategies to reduce complications of anthracyclines.

Results Mitoxantrone had unacceptable and greater-than-anticipated toxicity for use in a chronic disease such as MS. Adverse effects included cardiotoxicity, treatment-associated leukemia, and amenorrhea. Toxicity was identified primarily in retrospect. Structurally related compounds include pixantrone (BBR2278) and BBR3378. Pixantrone is in clinical development in oncology. BBR3378 prevents the development of autoimmunity and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis and blocks experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis even when given after the onset of autoimmunity.

Conclusions There remains a need for effective MS treatment, particularly for nonrelapsing forms of MS. Mitoxantrone was the first nonbiologic drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in MS. Chromophore modification of anthracenedione agents yielded a novel class of DNA binding agents (aza-anthracenediones such as pixantrone and aza-anthrapyrazoles such as BBR3378) with the potential for less cardiotoxicity compared with mitoxantrone. There is a need for long-term observation for delayed toxicity among humans enrolled in pixantrone trials. Preclinical toxicity studies for delayed toxicities in rodents and other models are warranted before consideration of derivatives of anthracenediones, aza-anthrazenediones, or aza-anthrapyrazoles for use in human MS clinical trials.

Departments of *Neurology, †Pharmacology, ‡Pathology, §Biological Sciences, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH.

Deceased (M.H.).

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Boyd M. Koffman, MD, PhD, 3000 Arlington Ave, MSC 1195 Toledo, OH 43614; E-mail:

Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Copyright © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.