Purpose: Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) is the rate-limiting enzyme of 5-fluoropyrimidine (5-FU) catabolism. We examined whether tumor DPD expression is an effective marker in adjuvant therapy with oral fluoropyrimidines after curative resection of colorectal cancer.
Methods: We studied 89 patients with stage II-III colorectal cancers who had undergone curative resections and received oral 5-FU-based adjuvant chemotherapy. The levels of DPD expression in tumor and normal colonic mucosa were measured by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In 53 tumor samples, DPD enzymatic activity was also analyzed in order to evaluate the relationship between DPD expression and enzymatic activity.
Results: DPD expression significantly correlated with DPD enzymatic activity in these 53 tumors ( r=0.56; P<0.001). DPD expression in the tumors was significantly lower than in normal mucosa (47.1+/-30.8 and 56.4+/-18.5 U/mg protein, respectively; P<0.05). We designated the cut-off value of tumor DPD as its median value (46.0 U/mg protein). Patients with low DPD expression had longer disease-free intervals than those with high DPD expression according to univariate analysis ( P=0.026). In a multivariate analysis, low DPD expression was significantly and independently associated with better survival.
Conclusions: Tumor DPD expression is a useful marker for use with adjuvant chemotherapy with oral fluoropyrimidines after curative resection of colorectal cancer.