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Eur J Cancer. 1997 Nov;33(13):2258-64.

Heterozygosity for a point mutation in an invariant splice donor site of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase and severe 5-fluorouracil related toxicity.

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Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef.


Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) is responsible for the breakdown of the widely used antineoplastic agent 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), thereby limiting the efficacy of the therapy. It has been suggested that patients suffering from 5-FU toxicities due to a low activity of DPD are genotypically heterozygous for a mutant allele of the gene encoding DPD. In this study we investigated the cDNA and a genomic region of the DPD gene of a cancer patient experiencing severe toxicity following 5-FU treatment for the presence of mutations. Although normal activity of DPD was observed in fibroblasts, the DPD activity in leucocytes of the cancer patient proved to be in the heterozygous range. Analysis of the DPD cDNA showed heterozygosity for a 165bp deletion that results from exon skipping. Sequence analysis of the genomic region encompassing the skipped exon showed that the tumour patient was heterozygous for a G-->A point mutation in the invariant GT splice donor sequence in the intron downstream of the skipped exon. So far, the G-->A point mutation has also been found in 8 out of 11 patients suffering from a complete deficiency of DPD. Considering the frequent use of 5-FU in the treatment of cancer patients, the severe 5-FU-related toxicities in patients with a low activity of DPD and the high frequency of the G-->A mutation in DPD deficient patients, analysis of the DPD activity and screening for the G-->A mutation should be routinely carried out prior to the start of the treatment with 5-FU.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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