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Gastroenterology. 2000 Apr;118(4):705-13.

Pharmacogenomics and metabolite measurement for 6-mercaptopurine therapy in inflammatory bowel disease.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, University of Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.



The effects of 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) are mediated via its intracellular conversion to 6-thioguanine (6-TG) and 6-methylmercaptopurine (6-MMP) nucleotide metabolites, the latter genetically controlled by thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT). We sought to determine optimal therapeutic 6-MP metabolite levels and their correlation with medication-induced toxicity and TPMT genotype.


Therapeutic response was determined in 92 pediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease coincidentally with hematologic, pancreatic, and hepatic laboratory parameters, and compared with erythrocyte metabolite levels and TPMT genotype.


Clinical response was highly correlated with 6-TG levels (P < 0.0001) but not with any other variable, including 6-MMP levels, drug dose, gender, and concurrent medications. The frequency of therapeutic response increased at 6-TG levels > 235 pmol/8 x 10(8) erythrocytes (P < 0.001). Hepatotoxicity correlated with elevated 6-MMP levels (>5700 pmol/8 x 10(8) erythrocytes; P < 0.05). Although leukopenia was associated with higher 6-TG levels (P < 0.03), it was observed in only 8% of responders. Patients heterozygous for TPMT (8/92) had higher 6-TG levels (P < 0.0001), and all responded to therapy.


6-MP metabolite levels and TPMT genotyping may assist clinicians in optimizing therapeutic response to 6-MP and identifying individuals at increased risk for drug-induced toxicity.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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