Acute toxicity of maytansine in F344 rats.
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The toxicity of maytansine given by sc administration was studied in 5-week-old mald F344 rats. The LD50 (14-day) was 0.48 mg/kg. A dose response to drug administration was indicated by body weight changes and diarrhea. A single, acutely toxic dose of maytansine was shown to possess marked activity against dividing cells which was regarded as an important factor in the pathogenesis of acute lesions in tissues with a normal high rate of cell division. Histologically, mitotic figues were observed in many tissues from 6 to 24 hours after drug administration. Subsequently, necrotizing lesions led to atrophic changes in gastrointestinal tract mucosa, thymus, spleen, bone marrow, and testis. Maytansine also induced hemorrhagic lesions in parenchymatous organs and brain and perivascular monomuclear infiltration in the meninges, and chromatolysis and vacuolation of dorsal root ganglion cells, accompanied by clinical signs of ataxia. Ulcerative skin lesions were observed at the sc site of drug administration.