A phase I study of intravenous fenretinide (4-HPR) for patients with malignant solid tumors

Jacob S. Thomas, Anthony B. El-Khoueiry, Barry J. Maurer, Susan Groshen, Jacek K. Pinski, Everardo Cobos, David R. Gandara, Heinz J. Lenz, Min H. Kang, C. Patrick Reynolds, Edward M. Newman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Fenretinide is a synthetic retinoid that can induce cytotoxicity by several mechanisms. Achieving effective systemic exposure with oral formulations has been challenging. An intravenous lipid emulsion fenretinide formulation was developed to overcome this barrier. We conducted a study to establish the maximum tolerated dose (MTD), preliminary efficacy, and pharmacokinetics of intravenous lipid emulsion fenretinide in patients with advanced solid tumors. Methods: Twenty-three patients with advanced solid tumors refractory to standard treatments received fenretinide as a continuous infusion for five consecutive days in 21-day cycles. Five different dose cohorts were evaluated between doses of 905 mg/m2 and 1414 mg/m2 per day using a 3 + 3 dose escalation design. A priming dose of 600 mg/m2 on day 1 was introduced in an attempt to address the asymptomatic serum triglyceride elevations related to the lipid emulsion. Results: The treatment-related adverse events occurring in ≥ 20% of patients were anemia, hypertriglyceridemia, fatigue, aspartate aminotransferase (AST)/alanine aminotransferase (ALT) increase, thrombocytopenia, bilirubin increase, and dry skin. Five evaluable patients had stable disease as best response, and no patients had objective responses. Plasma steady-state concentrations of the active metabolite were significantly higher than with previous capsule formulations. Conclusion: Fenretinide emulsion intravenous infusion had a manageable safety profile and achieved higher plasma steady-state concentrations of the active metabolite compared to previous capsule formulations. Single-agent activity was minimal but combinatorial approaches are under evaluation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Ceramide
  • Lipid emulsion
  • Phase I
  • Retinoid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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