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Br J Cancer. 2004 Aug 16;91(4):678-82.

UGT1A1 gene variations and irinotecan treatment in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Department of Medical Oncology, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Avda. S. Antoni M Claret 167, 08025 Barcelona, Spain.


SN-38 is the active metabolite of irinotecan and it is metabolised through conjugation by uridine diphosphate glucuronosyl transferase (UGT1A1). The major toxicity of irinotecan therapy is diarrhoea, which has been related to the enzymatic activity of UGT1A1. We examined the influence of the UGT1A1 gene promoter polymorphism in the toxicity profile, in the response rate and in the overall survival (OS) in 95 patients with metastatic colorectal cancer treated with an irinotecan-containing chemotherapy. Genotypes were determined by analysing the sequence of TATA box of UGT1A1 of genomic DNA from the patients. Clinical parameters and genotypes were compared by univariate and multivariate statistical methods. The more frequent adverse effects were asthenia (34 patients), diarrhoea (29 patients) and neutropenia (20 patients). Severe diarrhoea was observed in 7/10 homozygous (70%) and 15/45 heterozygous (33%) in comparison to 7/40 (17%) wild-type patients (P=0.005). These results maintained the statistical significance in logistic regression analysis (P=0.01) after adjustment for other clinical relevant variables. The presence of severe haematological toxicity increased from wild-type patients to UGT1A1(*)28 homozygotes, but without achieving statistical significance. No relationship was found between the UGT1A1(*)28 genotypes and infection, nausea or mucositis. In univariate studies, patients with the UGT1A1(*)28 polymorphism showed a trend to a poorer OS (P=0.09). In the multivariate analysis, the genotype was not related to clinical response or to OS. The role of the UGT1A1 genotype as a predictor of toxicity in cancer patients receiving irinotecan demands the performance of a randomized trial to ascertain whether genotype-adjusted dosages of the drug can help to establish safe and effective doses not only for patients with the UGT1A1(*)28 homozygous genotype but also for those with the most common UGT1A1 6/6 or 6/7 genotype.

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