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On Therapeutic Drug Monitoring of Thiopurines in Inflammatory Bowel Disease; Pharmacology, Pharmacogenomics, Drug Intolerance and Clinical Relevance

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Thiopurines such as azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine and 6-thioguanine are antimetabolites that have been used for several decades in the treatment of several diseases including inflammatory bowel diseases. Additional anti-inflammatory properties of these thiopurines have been discovered in recent years. Thiopurine metabolism is complex due to the involvement of multiple enzymes, of which the activities are genetically determined and cell type dependent. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in the genes encoding these enzymes have been correlated with altered activities and drug intolerance. Detailed implications of these will be reviewed. Over the years several methods of therapeutic drug monitoring have been developed in an attempt to relate thiopurine drug availability with efficacy and intolerance. In this respect, monitoring pharmacologically active 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations is most widely used. So far, however, the clinical usefulness of these methods is hampered by methodological limitations. Some drug interactions may optimize the metabolization of thiopurines and consequently increase its efficacy and decrease drug intolerance. This review focuses on the clinical relevance and usefulness of therapeutic drug monitoring of thiopurines and provides suggestions to optimize thiopurine therapy in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Keywords: Azathioprine; drug interactions; drug intolerance; inflammatory bowel disease; mercaptopurine; pharmacology; therapeutic drug monitoring; thioguanine

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Current Drug Metabolism aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in drug metabolism and disposition. The journal serves as an international forum for the publication of timely reviews in drug metabolism. Current Drug Metabolism is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments. The journal covers the following areas:

    In vitro systems including CYP-450; enzyme induction and inhibition; drug-drug interactions and enzyme kinetics; pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics, species scaling and extrapolations; P-glycoprotein and transport carriers; target organ toxicity and interindividual variability; drug metabolism and disposition studies; extrahepatic metabolism; phase I and phase II metabolism; recent developments for the identification of drug metabolites and adducts.

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