Inherited variations in drug-metabolizing enzymes: significance in clinical oncology

Mol Diagn. 1999 Dec;4(4):327-33. doi: 10.1016/s1084-8592(99)80009-5.


Pharmacogenetics has emerged as a novel and challenging area of interest in oncology. Cancer chemotherapy is characterized by major intersubject variability in tumor responses and host toxicity. This variation may be caused by genetic differences in the enzymes involved in the metabolism of anticancer agents. Anticancer agents, such as 6-mercaptopurine, 5-fluorouracil, and irinotecan, have a narrow therapeutic index that can sometimes result in severe life-threatening toxicities. The impact of polymorphisms in metabolizing enzymes (thiopurine S-methyltransferase, dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase, and uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase) that participate significantly in the disposition of these anticancer agents is discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism*
  • Dihydrouracil Dehydrogenase (NADP)
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genotype
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Methyltransferases / genetics*
  • Oxidoreductases / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Genetic


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Dihydrouracil Dehydrogenase (NADP)
  • Methyltransferases
  • thiopurine methyltransferase
  • Glucuronosyltransferase