Cytarabine (Liposomal)

Name: Cytarabine (Liposomal)

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about cytarabine, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about cytarabine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using cytarabine (liposomal).

Review Date: October 4, 2017

Brand Names U.S.

  • DepoCyt [DSC]


Cytarabine liposomal is a sustained-release formulation of the active ingredient cytarabine, an antimetabolite which acts through inhibition of DNA synthesis and is cell cycle-specific for the S phase of cell division. Cytarabine is converted intracellularly to its active metabolite cytarabine-5’-triphosphate (ara-CTP). Ara-CTP also appears to be incorporated into DNA and RNA; however, the primary action is inhibition of DNA polymerase, resulting in decreased DNA synthesis and repair. The liposomal formulation allows for gradual release, resulting in prolonged exposure.


Systemic exposure following intrathecal administration is negligible since transfer rate from CSF to plasma is slow

Time to Peak

CSF: Intrathecal: <1 hour

Half-Life Elimination

CSF: 6 to 82 hours

Dosing Adjustment for Toxicity

If drug-related neurotoxicity develops, reduce dose to 25 mg. If toxicity persists, discontinue treatment.

Monitoring Parameters

Monitor closely for signs of an immediate reaction; chemical arachnoiditis; neurotoxicity

Pregnancy Risk Factor D Pregnancy Considerations

Adverse effects were observed in animal reproductive studies with conventional cytarabine. Conventional cytarabine has been associated with fetal malformations when given as a component of systemic combination chemotherapy during the first trimester. Systemic exposure following intrathecal administration of cytarabine liposomal is negligible; however, women of childbearing potential should avoid becoming pregnant during treatment.

What is the most important information I should know about cytarabine liposomal?

Cytarabine liposomal is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

You should not receive this medication if you have an active meningitis infection.

Call your doctor at once if you have nausea and vomiting with headache and fever. These may be early signs of central nervous system damage.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving cytarabine liposomal?

You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to cytarabine liposomal or if you have an active meningitis infection.

Before you use cytarabine liposomal, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions.

Do not use cytarabine liposomal if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether cytarabine liposomal passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving this medication.

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of cytarabine liposomal include: fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, asthenia, drowsiness, and pain. Other side effects include: thrombocytopenia. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

Cytarabine liposomal Breastfeeding Warnings

There are no data on the excretion of cytarabine liposomal into human milk. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants, the use of cytarabine liposomal is not recommended in nursing women.