Docetaxel is a clinically well established anti-mitotic chemotherapy medication used mainly for the treatment of breast, ovarian, and non-small cell lung cancer. Docetaxel binds to microtubules reversibly with high affinity and has a maximum stoichiometry of one mole docetaxel per mole tubulin in microtubules.
For the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer after failure of prior chemotherapy. Also used as a single agent in the treatment of patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer after failure of prior platinum-based chemotherapy. It is also used in combination with prednisone, in the treatment of patients with androgen independent (hormone refractory) metastatic prostate cancer. Furthermore, docetaxel has uses in the treatment of gastric adenocarinoma and head and neck cancer.
Docetaxel is a taxoid antineoplastic agent. It promotes the assembly of microtubules from tubulin dimers and stabilizes microtubules by preventing depolymerization. This stability results in the inhibition of the normal dynamic reorganization of the microtubule network that is essential for vital interphase and mitotic cellular functions. In addition, docetaxel induces abnormal arrays or "bundles" of microtubules throughout the cell cycle and multiple asters of microtubules during mitosis.
Mechanism of action
Docetaxel interferes with the normal function of microtubule growth. Whereas drugs like colchicine cause the depolymerization of microtubules in vivo, docetaxel arrests their function by having the opposite effect; it hyper-stabilizes their structure. This destroys the cell's ability to use its cytoskeleton in a flexible manner. Specifically, docetaxel binds to the β-subunit of tubulin. Tubulin is the "building block" of mictotubules, and the binding of docetaxel locks these building blocks in place. The resulting microtubule/docetaxel complex does not have the ability to disassemble. This adversely affects cell function because the shortening and lengthening of microtubules (termed dynamic instability) is necessary for their function as a transportation highway for the cell. Chromosomes, for example, rely upon this property of microtubules during mitosis. Further research has indicated that docetaxel induces programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells by binding to an apoptosis stopping protein called Bcl-2 (B-cell leukemia 2) and thus arresting its function.