A new drug just got approved for treatment for myeloma. It is called selinexor. The correct localization of molecules between nucleus and cytoplasm is fundamental for cellular homeostasis and is controlled by a bidirectional transport system. Exportin 1 (XPO1) regulates the passage of numerous cancer-related proteins. The development of a novel class of antitumor agents, known as selective inhibitors of nuclear export (SINEs) have shown good results in studies and clinical trials in multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin lymphomas, lymphoblastic leukemia, and acute and chronic myeloid leukemia, sarcomas, and gastric cancer. Selinexor is one of the first to be approved in this class of drugs. In a recent NEJM trial published this year, Chari et al showed that oral selinexor- dexamethasone worked well for triple class refractory multiple myeloma(MM). We wrote a letter back to the authors published in NEJM few weeks later noticing that one of the most common grade 3 or 4 adverse event was hyponatremia(<130mmol/l) ( 22%). In reviewing the prior studies( table below), this is a class effect of selinexor as other trials with the use of this agent had similar rates of hyponatremia ranging from 7%-26%.
Table: Summary of major trials that led to Grade 3,4 hyponatremia
The rates of hyponatremia are higher in the MM studies compared to solid tumor studies. No workup or cause was found in many of the studies. Another recent study in AML ( phase 1) has close to 70% incidence of hyponatremia. Likely this could be related to the GI effects such as severe nausea leading to an ADH release causing hyponatremia or could this be a direct effect of the mechanism of this agent. Could this drug effect the AQP channels or V2 receptor- not sure as mechanism has not been worked out. A serum osmolarity testing along with urine studies can answer this question. As the drug enters clinical practice, It is very possible that we shall see an even increased incidence given other confounders patients might be on such as thiazides, and or increased free water intake. Involvement of nephrology consultation in the trials ongoing might be essential to investigate the mechanism of this toxicity. Serum and urine studies would help in assessment of the cause and pathophysiology of the hyponatremia. This will then allow for preventive strategies in further trials and clinical practice. Once out in the real world, it will be more important as lot of our patients could be on thiazides, SSRi and drinking a lot of water and then are given this agent. While most cases the hyponatremia might be asymptomatic, subtle symptoms and appropriate early management can prevent seizures and complications of hyponatremia.
As nephrologists, we need to be aware of this drug as we usually see myeloma patients.