alkylating agent

alkylating agent
alkylating agent n a substance that causes replacement of hydrogen by an alkyl group esp. in a biologically important molecule specif one with mutagenic activity that inhibits cell division and growth and is used to treat some cancers

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a highly reactive compound that can substitute alkyl groups for the hydrogen atoms of certain organic compounds. Such agents are cytotoxic, producing their effects by the scission and cross-linking of DNA chains, and are not cell cycle–specific, but cell killing occurs primarily in rapidly proliferating tissues in which there is not time between mitoses for DNA repair systems to reverse the effects of the agent. Classes of antineoplastic alkylating agents include nitrogen mustards, ethylenimine derivatives, alkyl sulfonates, nitrosoureas, triazenes, and platinum compounds. Hematopoietic, reproductive, and epithelial tissues are particularly sensitive to alkylating agents, and their use may cause depressed blood cell counts, amenorrhea or impaired spermatogenesis, damage to intestinal mucosa, alopecia, and increased risk of malignancy.

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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