Clinical Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Transarterial Chemoembolization and Targeted Therapies in Hepatocellular Carcinoma.


APHP, HUPNVS, Department of Digestive Oncology, Beaujon University Hospital, 92110, Clichy, France. [Email]


The management of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is based on a multidisciplinary decision tree. Treatment includes loco-regional therapy, mainly transarterial chemoembolization, for intermediate-stage HCC and systemic therapy with oral tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) for advanced HCC. Transarterial chemoembolization involves hepatic intra-arterial infusion with either conventional procedure or drug-eluting-beads. The aim of the loco-regional procedure is to deliver treatment as close as possible to the tumor both to embolize the tumor area and to enhance efficacy and minimize systemic toxicity of the anticancer drug. Pharmacokinetic studies applied to transarterial chemoembolization are rare and pharmacodynamic studies even rarer. However, all available studies lead to the same conclusions: use of the transarterial route lowers systemic exposure to the cytotoxic drug and leads to much higher tumor drug concentrations than does a similar dose via the intravenous route. However, reproducibility of the procedure remains a major problem, and no consensus exists regarding the choice of anticancer drug and its dosage. Systemic therapy with TKIs is based on sorafenib and lenvatinib as first-line treatment and regorafenib and cabozantinib as second-line treatment. Clinical use of TKIs is challenging because of their complex pharmacokinetics, with high liver metabolism yielding both active metabolites and their common toxicities. Changes in liver function over time with the progression of HCC adds further complexity to the use of TKIs. The challenges posed by TKIs and the HCC disease process means monitoring of TKIs is required to improve clinical management. To date, only partial data supporting sorafenib monitoring is available. Results from further pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic studies of these four TKIs are eagerly awaited and are expected to permit such monitoring and the development of consensus guidelines.