Hydroxyurea or hydroxycarbamide (the latter being the recommended International Nonproprietary Name) is an antineoplastic drug used in hematological malignancies, specifically polycythemia vera and essential thrombocytosis. It is also used to reduce the rate of painful attacks in sickle-cell disease and has antiretroviral properties in diseases such as AIDS.

Mechanism of action

One mechanism of action is believed to be based on its inhibition of the enzyme ribonucleotide reductase by scavenging tyrosyl free radicals as they are involved in the reduction NDPs.cite journal |author=Platt OS |title=Hydroxyurea for the treatment of sickle cell anemia |journal=N. Engl. J. Med. |volume=358 |issue=13 |pages=1362–9 |year=2008 |pmid=18367739 |doi=10.1056/NEJMct0708272]

In the treatment of sickle-cell disease, hydroxyurea increases the concentration of fetal hemoglobin. The precise mechanism of action is not yet clear, but it appears that hydroxyurea increases nitric oxide levels, causing soluble guanylyl cyclase activation with a resultant rise in cyclic GMP, and the activation of gamma-globin synthesis necessary for fetal hemoglobin (by removing the rapidly dividing cells that preferentially produce sickle hemoglobin).cite journal |author=Cokic VP, Smith RD, Beleslin-Cokic BB, "et al" |title=Hydroxyurea induces fetal hemoglobin by the nitric oxide-dependent activation of soluble guanylyl cyclase |journal=J Clin Invest |volume=111 |issue=2 |pages=231–9 |year=2003 |pmid=12531879 |doi=10.1172/JCI16672|url=http://www.jci.org/articles/view/16672 PMC|151872]


Hydroxyurea is used for the following indications:fact|date=April 2008
* Myeloproliferative disease (primarily polycythemia vera not responding to venipuncture and essential thrombocytosis)
* Sickle-cell disease (breaks down cells that are prone to sickle, as well as increasing fetal hemoglobin content)
* AIDS as an adjunct to "ddI" in combination antiretroviral therapies
* Moderate to severe psoriasis (slows down the rapid division of skin cells)
* Biochemical research as a DNA replication inhibitor that causes ribonucleotide depletion and results in DNA double strand breaks near replication forks (see DNA repair)


The dose depends on the indication, but tends to be 500 milligrams once a day when treatment is initiated. In myeloproliferative disease, further increases are determined by the response of the cell count and whether myelosuppression (decreased production of other blood cells) develops.fact|date=April 2008

In sickle-cell disease, the initial daily dose is 15 mg per kilogram body weight (or less in reduced kidney function); after two weeks, a fall in the hemoglobin and platelet count and an increase in mean corpuscular volume (size of the red blood cells) is to be expected. The dose is then increased every two weeks with monitoring of the full blood count until the dose is either 35 mg/kg or cytopenias develop.

ide effects

Reported side-effects are: drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, constipation, mucositis, anorexia, stomatitis, bone marrow toxicity (which may take 7-21 days to recover after the drug has been discontinued), alopecia (hair loss), skin changes, abnormal liver enzymes, creatinine and blood urea nitrogen.fact|date=April 2008

Due to its effect on the bone marrow, regular monitoring of the full blood count is vital, as well as early response to possible infections. In addition, renal function, uric acid and electrolytes, as well as liver enzymes, are commonly checked.fact|date=April 2008

Hydroxyurea has been used primarily for the treatment of myeloproliferative diseases, which has an inherent risk of transforming to acute myeloid leukemia. There has been a longstanding concern that hydroxyurea itself carries a leukemia risk, but large studies have shown that the risk is either absent or very small. Nevertheless, it has been a barrier for its wider use in patients with sickle-cell disease.


Contraindications are: severe anemia, bone marrow depression or neutropenia.fact|date=April 2008

Use in pregnancy

Category D - investigational or post-marketing data show risk to the fetus. However, potential benefits may outweigh the potential risk. Generally this rating is reserved for drugs with no safer alternatives.fact|date=April 2008


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hydroxyurea — Strukturformel Allgemeines Freiname Hydroxycarbamid Andere Namen …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • hydroxyurea — noun Date: 1949 a drug CH4N2O2 used to treat some forms of leukemia, melanoma, and malignant tumors …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hydroxyurea — Inhibitor of DNA synthesis (but not repair) …   Dictionary of molecular biology

  • hydroxyurea — /huy drok see yoo ree euh, yoor ee euh/, n. Pharm. a synthetic compound, CH4N2O2, used in cancer therapy. [1945 50; HYDROXY + UREA] * * * …   Universalium

  • hydroxyurea — noun The hydroxylated derivative of urea, NHCO NHOH, used as an antineoplastic drug; any N or O derivative of this compound …   Wiktionary

  • hydroxyurea — An oral antineoplastic agent that inhibits DNA synthesis; used in the treatment of a variety of malignancies including melanoma, chronic myelocytic leukemia, and carcinoma of the ovary. SYN: hydro …   Medical dictionary

  • hydroxyurea — hy·droxy·urea …   English syllables

  • hydroxyurea — n.; see hydroxycarbamide …   The new mediacal dictionary

  • hydroxyurea — An anticancer drug that belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • hydroxyurea — (¦)hīˌdräksēˌ noun Etymology: hydroxy + urea : an antineoplastic drug CH4N2O2 used especially to treat melanoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia, and malignant tumors (as of the ovary or neck) * * * /huy drok see yoo ree euh, yoor ee euh/, n. Pharm …   Useful english dictionary

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