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Br J Pharmacol. 2004 Feb;141(4):616-23. Epub 2004 Jan 26.

Circadian rhythm of dihydrouracil/uracil ratios in biological fluids: a potential biomarker for dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase levels.

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Clinical Pharmacology Research Center, Peking Union Medical College Hospital & Chinese Academy of Medical Science, Beijing 100730, China.


1. In many cancer patients, 5-fluorouracil (5-FUra) treatment is toxic and even causes death. Nevertheless, all patients are subjected to a standard therapy regimen because there is no reliable way to identify beforehand those patients who are predisposed to 5-FUra-induced toxicity. In this study, we identified the dihydrouracil/uracil (UH2/Ura) ratio in plasma or urine as a potential biomarker reflecting the activity of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), the rate-limiting enzyme in 5-FUra metabolism. 2. UH2/Ura ratios were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography tandem triple quadrupole mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) in both healthy subjects (n=55) and in patients (n=20) diagnosed with grade I/II gestational trophoblastic tumours. In addition, rats (n=18) were used as an animal model to verify a correlation between UH2/Ura ratios and DPD levels in the liver. 3. A significant circadian rhythm was observed in UH2/Ura ratios in healthy subjects, whereas a disrupted rhythm occurred in cancer patients who were continuously infused with a high dose of 5-FUra. In rats, UH2/Ura ratios, liver DPD levels and PBMC DPD levels showed a definite circadian rhythm. Significant linear correlations with liver DPD levels were demonstrated for plasma UH2/Ura ratios (r=0.883, P<0.01), urine UH2/Ura ratios (r=0.832, P<0.01) and PBMC DPD levels (r=0.859, P<0.01). 4. The UH2/Ura ratio in biological fluid was significantly correlated with liver DPD levels; hence, this ratio could be a potential biomarker to identify patients with a deficiency in DPD.

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