The precise mechanism by which altretamine exerts its cytotoxic effect is unknown although it is classified as an alkylating anti-neoplastic agent. Through this mechanism, the drug is metabolized into alkylating agents by N-demethylation. These alkylating species consequently damage tumor cells.
Altretamine is a novel antineoplastic agent. The precise mechanism by which altretamine exerts its cytotoxic effect is unknown, although a number of theoretical possibilities have been studied. Structurally, altretamine resembles the alkylating agent triethylenemelamine, yet in vitro tests for alkylating activity of altretamine and its metabolitics have been negative. Altretamine has been demonstrated to be efficacious for certain ovarian tumors resistant to classical alkylating agents. Metabolism of altretamine is a requirement of cytotoxicity. Synthetic monohydroxymethylmelamines, and products of altretamine metabolism, in vitro and in vivo, can form covalent adducts with tissue macromolecules including DNA, but the relevance of these reactions to antitumor activity is unknown.