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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2014 Oct;59(4):511-5. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000000455.

Thiopurine metabolite ratios for monitoring therapy in pediatric Crohn disease.

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*Division of Gastroenterology, McGill University Health Center †Department of Pediatrics, Research Center, Sainte Justine Hospital, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



Thiopurines (azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine) are a mainstay of treatment in Crohn disease (CD). Monitoring intracellular metabolite (6-thioguanine nucleotides [6-TGN] and 6-methylmercaptopurine [6-MMP]) levels can help optimize therapeutic efficacy and minimize potential toxicity. Determination of 6-MMP/6-TGN ratios may provide additional useful information, such as the identification of individuals with excessive thiopurine methyltransferase activity and disadvantageous 6-MMP overproduction. These patients are at increased risk of therapeutic failure and hepatotoxicity. The aim of the study was to evaluate the correlation of 6-MMP/6-TGN ratios with therapeutic efficacy and risk of hepatotoxicity in CD.


The present study was a single-center cross-sectional study including pediatric patients with CD studied prospectively with clinical and laboratory assessments along with serial measurements of 6-MMP and 6-TGN. Clinical response was determined using established clinical indices.


The study included 238 pediatric patients with CD with a total of 1648 evaluation points. The patients were in steroid-free remission at 59.1% of the evaluation points. 6-MMP/6-TGN ratios of 4 to 24 were protective against relapse (odds ratio [OR] 0.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] -0.39 to 0.69, P = 0.001). Hepatotoxicity was associated with high 6-MMP levels (>3919  pmol/8 × 10 red blood cell count: OR 7.65, 95% CI 3.7-15.9, P = 0.001) and high 6-MMP/6-TGN ratios (>24: OR 5.35, 95% CI -3.43 to 8.43, P = 0.001).


We observed significant associations between 6-MMP/6-TGN ratios and clinical response, and risk of hepatotoxicity. Our results suggest that determination of thiopurine metabolite ratios is a valuable tool for identification of patients at increased risk of therapeutic failure and hepatotoxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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