Zalcitabine is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) with activity against Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 (HIV-1). Within cells, zalcitabine is converted to its active metabolite, dideoxycytidine 5'-triphosphate (ddCTP), by the sequential action of cellular enzymes. ddCTP interferes with viral RNA-directed DNA polymerase (reverse transcriptase) by competing for utilization of the natural substrate deoxycytidine 5'-triphosphate (dCTP), as well as incorpating into viral DNA. Due to it's lack of a 3'-OH group, the formation of a 5' to 3' phosphodiester linkage that is necessary for DNA chain elongation is inhibited, thus leading to the termination of viral DNA growth.
Zalcitabine is an analog of 2'-deoxycytidine that is pharmacologically related to but structurally different from other nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Zalcitabine inhibits the activity of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) both by competing with the natural substrate dGTP and by its incorporation into viral DNA.
Acute overdose: Inadvertent pediatric overdoses have occurred with doses up to 1.5 mg/kg zalcitabine. Chronic overdose: in an initial dose-finding study in which zalcitabine was administered at doses 25 times (0.25 mg/kg every 8 hours) the currently recommended dose, one patient discontinued zalcitabine after 1_ weeks of treatment subsequent to the development of a rash and fever.