DNA-thioguanine nucleotide as a treatment marker in acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients with NUDT15 variant genotypes

Hee Young Ju, Ji Won Lee, Hee Won Cho, Ju Kyung Hyun, Youngeun Ma, Eun Sang Yi, Keon Hee Yoo, Ki Woong Sung, Rihwa Choi, Hong Hoe Koo, Soo-Youn Lee
PloS One 2021, 16 (1): e0245667

BACKGROUND: Large inter-individual variations in drug metabolism pose a challenge in determining 6-mercaptopurine (6MP) doses. As the last product of 6MP metabolism, DNA-thioguanine nucleotide (DNA-TGN) could reflect the efficacy of 6MP, especially in patients harboring variants in the 6MP metabolism pathway. The aim of this study was to investigate the clinical significance of DNA-TGN monitoring in Korean pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) patients, focusing on the NUDT15 genotype.

METHODS: The subjects of this study were patients who underwent ALL treatment with 6MP. Tests for the NUDT15 and TPMT genotypes were performed, and prospective DNA-TGN and erythrocyte TGN samples were collected after two weeks or more of 6MP treatment. DNA-TGN was quantified using the liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method.

RESULTS: A total of 471 DNA-TGN measurements in 71 patients were analyzed, which ranged from 1.0 to 903.1 fmol thioguanine/μg DNA. The 6MP intensity demonstrated a significant relationship with DNA-TGN concentration (P<0.001). Patients harboring NUDT15 variants were treated with a lower dose of 6MP (P<0.001); however, there was no significant difference in DNA-TGN concentration when compared to patients carrying wild-type NUDT15 (P = 0.261). These patients also presented higher variation in DNA-TGN levels (P = 0.002) and DNA-TGN/6MP intensity (P = 0.019) compared to patients carrying wild-type NUDT15. DNA-TGN concentration did not show a significant correlation with WBC count (P = 0.093).

CONCLUSIONS: Patients harboring NUDT15 variants demonstrated similar DNA-TGN concentrations even at low doses of 6MP and showed high variability in DNA-TGN. Particularly in patients with NUDT15 variants who need a reduced 6MP dose, DNA-TGN could be applied as a useful marker to monitor the therapeutic effect of 6MP.

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