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Pentostatin structure.svg
Pentostatin ball-and-stick.png
Clinical data
Trade names Nipent
AHFS/ Monograph
MedlinePlus a692004
  • US: D (Evidence of risk)
Routes of
ATC code
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability n/a
Protein binding 4%
Metabolism Hepatic, minor
Elimination half-life 2.6 to 16 hours, mean 5.7 hours
CAS Number
PubChem CID
ECHA InfoCard 100.164.991 Edit this at Wikidata
Chemical and physical data
Formula C11H16N4O4
Molar mass 268.269 g/mol
3D model (JSmol)

Pentostatin (or deoxycoformycin, trade name Nipent, manufactured by SuperGen) is an anticancer chemotherapeutic drug.[1]


It is classified as a purine analog, which is a type of antimetabolite.

It mimics the nucleoside adenosine and thus inhibits the enzyme adenosine deaminase, interfering with the cell's ability to process DNA.[2]

Cancer cells generally divide more often than healthy cells; DNA is highly involved in cell division (mitosis) and drugs which target DNA-related processes are therefore more toxic to cancer cells than healthy cells.


Pentostatin is used to treat hairy cell leukemia.[3] It is given by intravenous infusion once every two weeks for three to six months.

Additionally, pentostatin has been used to treat steroid-refractory acute and chronic graft-versus-host disease.[4]

Pentostatin is also used in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients who have relapsed.


  1. ^ Kay NE, Geyer SM, Call TG, et al. (January 2007). "Combination chemoimmunotherapy with pentostatin, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab shows significant clinical activity with low accompanying toxicity in previously untreated B chronic lymphocytic leukemia". Blood. 109 (2): 405–11. doi:10.1182/blood-2006-07-033274. PMC 1785105Freely accessible. PMID 17008537. 
  2. ^ Sauter C, Lamanna N, Weiss MA (September 2008). "Pentostatin in chronic lymphocytic leukemia". Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 4 (9): 1217–22. doi:10.1517/17425255.4.9.1217. PMID 18721115. 
  3. ^ Cannon T, Mobarek D, Wegge J, Tabbara IA (October 2008). "Hairy cell leukemia: current concepts". Cancer Invest. 26 (8): 860–5. doi:10.1080/07357900801965034. PMID 18798068. 
  4. ^ Bolaños-Meade J, Jacobsohn DA, Margolis J, Ogden A, Wientjes MG, Byrd JC, Lucas DM, Anders V, Phelps M, Grever MR, Vogelsang GB (April 2005). "Pentostatin in steroid-refractory acute graft-versus-host disease". J Clin Oncol. 23 (12): 2661–8. doi:10.1200/JCO.2005.06.130. PMID 15837980.