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 BRAND NAMES
- International: Alexan, Aracytin, Cytosar, DepoCyte (longer-lasting liposomal formulation)
- Canada: Cytarabine hospira PI, Cytosar PI
- Germany: Ara-cell
- Sweden: Arabine
 MECHANISM OF ACTION
Cytarabine (4-Amino-1-beta-D-arabinofuranosyl-2(1H)-pyrimidinone) is a chemotherapy agent that combines a cytosine base with an arabinose sugar. Cytosine normally combines with a different sugar, deoxyribose, to form deoxycytidine, a component of DNA.
Cytarabine acts as an antimetabolite, it is activated by kinases to cytosine arabinoside triphosphate (AraCTP) which damages DNA when the cell cycle holds in the S phase, and it also inhibits DNA polymerases. Cytarabine interferes with the growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells, which are the most affected.
Cytarabine is rapidly metabolized into the inactive uracil derivative when taken orally; less than 20% of the orally administered dose is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
Cytarabine is used mainly in the treatment of acute leukemia in both adults and children (cancer of blood where there is too many white blood cells) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
 SIDE EFFECTS
High dose schedules (2-3 g/m2) can cause severe and at times fatal, CNS toxicity (different from that seen with conventional therapy regimens). These reactions include cerebral and cerebellar dysfunction including personality changes, somnolence, convulsion, ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements) and coma, usually reversible.
Myelosuppression: Cytarabine is a potent bone marrow suppressant; the severity depends on the dose of the drug and schedule of administration. The complications of bone marrow suppression are infections resulting from granulocytopenia (granulocytopenia is a marked decrease n the number of a type of white blood called granulocytes), and hemorrhage secondary to thrombocytopenia (decrease of thrombocytes, commonly known as platelets).