Background: The role of thymidylate synthase (TS) and dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) enzyme activities in tumor progression and sensitivity to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) were evaluated.
Materials and methods: TS and DPD activities were measured in 81 clinical samples of gastric cancer. TS and DPD activities were determined by 5-fluorodeoxyuridine monophosphate binding assay and by radioenzymatic assay, respectively. Sensitivity to 5-FU was determined by in vitro ATP assay.
Results: There was no correlation between TS activity and sensitivity to 5-FU. However, a weak correlation was found between DPD activity and sensitivity to 5-FU. In a subgroup of patients who did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy, overall survival was poorer in patients with high TS activity (p=0.0265). Conversely, in a subgroup of patients who received 5-FU-based adjuvant chemotherapy, overall survival was poorer in patients with high DPD activity (p=0.0465).
Conclusion: These results suggest that TS has an important role in tumor progression and DPD may be the dominant predictor of 5-FU sensitivity in gastric cancer.