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Role of tolvaptan in the management of hyponatremia in patients with lung and other cancers: current data and future perspectives

Authors Thajudeen B, Salahudeen AK

Received 8 April 2016

Accepted for publication 27 June 2016

Published 22 August 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 105—114

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S90169

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Kenan Onel


Bijin Thajudeen,1 Abdulla K Salahudeen1,2

1Department of Nephrology, Banner University of Arizona Medical Center, 2Department of Nephrology, Southern Arizona Veterans Health Care System, Tucson, AZ, USA

Abstract: Hyponatremia is the most frequently observed electrolyte abnormality in clinical practice, and its frequency is almost double in hospitalized cancer patients. As a subset of cancer, hyponatremia is quite common in lung cancer patients, and it is often coupled with the diagnosis of syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion. The presence of hyponatremia is consequential in that its presence adversely affects cancer patients’ prognosis and outcomes. Limited data suggest that correcting hyponatremia in lung cancer patients can increase response to anticancer treatment, may help reduce length of hospital stay and cost, and reduce morbidity and mortality. The type of treatment for hyponatremia depends on several factors; the key factors are the duration and severity of neurological symptoms of hyponatremia and the status of extracellular volume. When hyponatremia is caused by syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone, hypertonic saline is indicated for acute symptomatic cases, whereas fluid restriction is recommended in chronic asymptomatic hyponatremia. The latter allows a slower rate of correction, thus avoiding the dreaded complication of osmotic demyelination syndrome. Fluid restriction is, however, insufficient or impractical, and often the use of pharmacological therapy such as antidiuretic hormone receptor antagonists becomes necessary. Availability of these antagonists as an effective treatment in the management of hyponatremia has been a major breakthrough, and furthermore, its clinical or investigational use in cancer-related hyponatremia may offer a potential opportunity to gain further insights into the prognostic impact of hyponatremia correction on cancer patients’ outcomes. Tolvaptan is a prototype of ADH receptor antagonists that acts at renal tubular levels to increase free water excretion without inducing major systemic electrolyte abnormalities such as hypokalemia or alkalosis. The aim of this paper is to provide a brief review while focusing on cancer hyponatremia; (1) of the epidemiology of hyponatremia and its pathophysiology and diagnostic approaches and (2) of the pharmacokinetics of tolvaptan and its clinical efficacy, safety, and compliance.

Keywords: treatment, pharmacology, safety, tolerability, efficacy, adherence

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