Environmental degradation of human metabolites of cyclophosphamide leads to toxic and non-biodegradable transformation products

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The present study assessed the ready biodegradability of the prodrug cyclophosphamide (CPA) and its stable human metabolites in the closed bottle test (CBT). The results of the CBT showed that only the main human metabolite, carboxyphosphamide (CXP), was biodegradable to a certain extent (23 ± 2.4 % ThODNH3). All other metabolites showed neither biodegradation under these conditions nor were any toxic effects on the inoculum observed. Yet, HRMSn results revealed partial primary elimination of all human metabolites and formation of 25 new transformation products. Abiotic degradation via SNi and SN2 reactions was proposed as the main degradation pathway during the CBT. The main degradation products were assigned as 3-(2-chloroethyl)oxazolidin-2-one (COAZ), cytotoxic N-2-chloroethylaziridine (CEZ) and nor‑nitrogen mustard (NNM), an analogue of the chemical warfare agent HN2. While the acute ecotoxicity of the detected products is widely unknown, many have already been reported in medical literature to be either mutagenic, genotoxic, cytotoxic or carcinogenic and may therefore cause a greater risk than their precursors. QSAR models predicted that 16 of them are mutagenic and genotoxic, thus classifying the majority of the chemicals as potential environmental hazards. The central intermediates during the degradation process were proposed as CEZ and its corresponding aziridinium ion. However, other degradation products may occur depending on the type and strength of nucleophiles present in the matrices. Overall, the results demonstrated the importance to include human metabolites in the evaluation of the environmental fate of pharmaceuticals and their risk assessment especially when investigating prodrugs. The results underline the importance of identifying possible degradation products of metabolites, as they can be more toxic than related parent compounds and metabolites and can cause a greater risk to the environment and humans.
Original languageEnglish
Article number159454
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue numberPart 3
Publication statusPublished - 20.01.2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2022 Elsevier B.V.

    Research areas

  • Antineoplastic drugs, Biodegradation, Cyclophosphamide, Degradation products, Metabolites, Nitrogen mustards
  • Chemistry