The DNA hypomethylating agents decitabine and 5-azacytidine are the only two drugs approved for treatment of all subtypes of the myeloid malignancy myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). The key to drug activity is incorporation into target cell DNA, however, a practical method to measure this incorporation is un-available. Here, we report a sensitive and specific LC-MS/MS method to simultaneously measure decitabine incorporation and DNA hypomethylation. A stable heavy isotope of 2'-deoxycytidine was used as an internal standard and one-step multi-enzyme digestion was used to release the DNA bound drug. Enzyme-released decitabine along with other mononucleosides were separated by a reverse-phase C-18 column and quantified by mass spectrometry using multiple-reaction-monitoring (MRM) mode, with a lower limit of quantitation at 1.00 nM. In vitro studies demonstrated dosage and time-dependent incorporation of decitabine into myeloid leukemia cell DNA that correlated with extent of DNA hypomethylation. When applied to clinical samples serially collected from MDS patients treated with decitabine, the method again demonstrated correlation between decitabine DNA-incorporation and DNA hypomethylation. This novel assay to measure the intended molecular pharmacodynamic effect of decitabine therapy can therefore potentially provide insights into mechanisms underlying sensitivity versus resistance to therapy.
Chilakala, Sujatha; Feng, Ye; Li, Lan; Mahfouz, Reda; Quteba, Ebrahem; Saunthararajah, Yogen; and Xu, Yan, "Tracking Decitabine Incorporation into Malignant Myeloid Cell DNA in vitro and in vivo by LC-MS/MS with Enzymatic Digestion" (2019). Chemistry Faculty Publications. 499.
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