BACKGROUND:: There is a large interindividual variability in thiopurine metabolism. High concentrations of methylthioinosine-5'-monophosphate (meTIMP) and low concentrations of 6-thioguanine nucleotides (6-TGNs) have been associated with a lower response rate and an increased risk of adverse events. In this study, the role of inosine-5'-monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH) for differences in metabolite patterns of thiopurines was investigated. METHODS:: IMPDH activity and thiopurine metabolite concentrations were determined in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and a normal thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) phenotype and meTIMP/6-TGN concentration ratio > 20 (n = 26), in patients with a metabolite ratio ≤20 (n = 21), in a subgroup with a metabolite ratio <4 (n = 6), and in 10 patients with reduced TPMT activity. In vitro studies were conducted on human embryonic kidney cells (HEK293) with genetically engineered IMPDH and TPMT activities. RESULTS:: Patients with metabolite ratios >20 had lower IMPDH activity than those with ratios ≤20 (P < 0.001). Metabolic ratios >20 were only observed in patients with normal TPMT activity. Downregulation of IMPDH activity in HEK293 cells was associated with an increase in the concentration of meTIMP (fold change: 17 up to 93, P < 0.001) but, unexpectedly, also of 6-thioguanosine monophosphate (fold change: 2.6 up to 5.0, P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS:: These data question the general view of IMPDH as the rate-limiting enzyme in the phosphorylation of thiopurines. Investigations of other mechanisms are needed to more fully explain the various metabolite patterns and outcomes in patients under treatment.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Other Clinical Medicine
- inosine-5-monophosphate dehydrogenase
- therapeutic drug monitoring