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Ann Hum Genet. 2017 Sep;81(5):190-196. doi: 10.1111/ahg.12198. Epub 2017 Jun 27.

Studies on N-Acetyltransferase (NAT2) Genotype Relationships in Emiratis: Confirmation of the Existence of Phenotype Variation among Slow Acetylators.

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Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.
Department of Pathology, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.
Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.



Individuals with slow N-acetylation phenotype often experience toxicity from drugs such as isoniazid, sulfonamides, procainamide, and hydralazine, whereas rapid acetylators may not respond to these medications. The highly polymorphic N-acetyltransferase 2 enzyme encoded by the NAT2 gene is one of the N-acetylators in humans with a clear impact on the metabolism of a significant number of important drugs. However, there are limited studies on N-acetylation phenotypes and NAT2 genotypes among Emiratis, and thus this study was carried out to fill this gap.


Five hundred seventy-six Emirati subjects were asked to consume a soft drink containing caffeine (a nontoxic and reliable probe for predicting the acetylation phenotype) and then provide a buccal swab along with a spot urine sample. Polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) was used to determine the genotype of each individual. Phenotyping was carried out by analyzing the caffeine metabolites using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis.


We found that 78.5%, 19.1%, and 2.4% of the Emirati subjects were slow, intermediate, and rapid acetylators, respectively. In addition, we found that 77.4% of the subjects were homozygous or heterozygous for two nonreference alleles, whereas 18.4% and 4.2% were heterozygous or homozygous for the reference allele (NAT2*4), respectively. The most common genotypes found were NAT2*5B/*7B, NAT2*5B/*6A, NAT2*7B/*14B, and NAT2*4/*5B, with frequencies of 0.255, 0.135, 0.105, and 0.09, respectively. The degree of phenotype/genotype concordance was 96.2%. The NAT2*6A/*6A, NAT2*6A/*7B, NAT2*7B/*7B, and NAT2*5A/*5B genotypes were found to be associated with the lowest 5-acetylamino-6-formylamino-3-methyluracil/1-methylxanthine (AFMU/1X) ratios.


There is a high percentage of slow acetylators among Emiratis, which correlates with the presence of nonreference alleles for the NAT2 gene. Individuals who carried NAT2*6A/*6A, NAT2*6A/*7B, NAT2*7B/*7B, or NAT2*5A/*5B genotypes might be at higher risk of toxicity with some drugs and some diseases compared to others, as these genotypes are associated with the slowest acetylation status.


N-acetyltransferase-2 polymorphisms; NAT2 genotype; PCR-RFLP; UAE population; and NAT2 phenotype

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