Cytarabine is a pyrimidine nucleoside analog. Cytarabine or cytosine arabinoside (Cytosar-U or Depocyt) is a chemotherapy agent used mainly in the treatment of cancers of white blood cells such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. It also has antiviral and immunosuppressant properties. Cytarabine is an antimetabolite antineoplastic agent that inhibits the synthesis of DNA. It is a cell cycle phase-specific, affecting cells only during the S phase of cell division. Intracellularly, cytarabine is converted into cytarabine-5-triphosphate (ara-CTP), which is the active metabolite. The mechanism of action is not completely understood, but it appears that ara-CTP acts primarily through inhibition of DNA polymerase. Incorporation into DNA and RNA may also contribute to cytarabine cytotoxicity. Cytarabine is cytotoxic to a wide variety of proliferating mammalian cells in culture.The drug has a short plasma half-life, low stability and limited bioavailability. Overdosing of patients with continuous infusions may lead to side effects. Thus, various prodrug strategies and delivery systems have been explored extensively to enhance the half-life, stability and delivery of cytarabine. Alternative, delivery systems of cytarabine have emerged for the treatment of different cancers. The liposomal-cytarabine formulation has been approved for the treatment of lymphomatous meningitis. NCATS
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