Cytarabine is a pyrimidine analog and chemotherapeutic agent that kills rapidly dividing cells by causing DNA chain termination and inhibiting DNA polymerase during the S phase of the cell cycle. It’s clinical uses include treatment of leukemias and lymphomas, but its side effects include myelosuppression, pancytopenia, and megaloblastic anemia.

Key Points

  • Cytarabine
    • Same mechanism as gemcitabine
    • Mechanism
      • Pyrimidine analog
        • Causes DNA chain termination
          • At higher concentrations, inhibits DNA polymerase
    • Adverse Effects
      • Megaloblastic anemia
        • Any drug that inhibits DNA production may lead to megaloblastic change
      • Myelosuppression / pancytopenia
    • Clinical Use
      • Leukemias (AML, ALL), lymphomas (high grade non-Hodgkins lymphoma)