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Eur J Cancer. 2004 May;40(7):939-50.

Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase and the efficacy and toxicity of 5-fluorouracil.

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Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Emma Children's Hospital and Department of Clinical Chemistry, PO Box 22700, 1100 DE Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The identification of genetic factors associated with either responsiveness or resistance to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) chemotherapy, as well as genetic factors predisposing patients to the development of severe 5-FU-associated toxicity, is increasingly being recognised as an important field of study. Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) is the initial and rate-limiting enzyme in the catabolism of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). Although the role of tumoral levels as a prognostic factor for clinical responsiviness has not been firmly established, there is ample evidence that a deficiency of DPD is associated with severe toxicity after the administration of 5-FU. Patients with a partial DPD deficiency have an increased risk of developing grade IV neutropenia. In addition, the onset of toxicity occurred twice as fast compared with patients with a normal DPD activity. To date, 39 different mutations and polymorphisms have been identified in DPYD. The IVS14+1G>A mutation proved to be the most common one and was detected in 24-28% of all patients suffering from severe 5-FU toxicity. Thus, a deficiency of DPD appears to be an important pharmacogenetic syndrome.

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