Pharmacogenetics of irinotecan: clinical perspectives on the utility of genotyping

Pharmacogenomics. 2006 Dec;7(8):1211-21. doi: 10.2217/14622416.7.8.1211.


Depending upon the UDP glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 (UGT1A1) genotype, patients are more or less susceptible to the risk of severe toxicity of irinotecan. As the US FDA-approved label of irinotecan (CPT-11, Camptosar) has been recently revised to include UGT1A1 genotype among potential risk factors for toxicity, it is expected that UGT1A1 genotyping will be increasingly used in patients undergoing irinotecan treatment. At present, the label states that *28/*28 (7/7) genotype patients are at higher risk of neutropenia and should be treated at a lower dose of irinotecan. Although effective alternative drugs (i.e., oxaliplatin) exist for metastatic colorectal cancer (the main indication of irinotecan), recent studies have confirmed that irinotecan has an important place in the management of this disease. We feel that now is the time for addressing questions around the UGT1A1*28 testing that many oncologists might have had but remained unanswered. For example, does the test have adequate sensitivity/specificity? Can the test results be effectively utilized to guide therapy of metastatic colorectal cancer patients? Is it possible that the *1/*1 (6/6) patients are underdosed? How can the genetic prediction of irinotecan toxicity be improved? Is the UGT1A1*28 test fully predictive of the UGT1A1 deficiency in patients who are not of Caucasian origin? Clinicians and investigators interested in a discussion of each of these points could find this article a useful source.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic* / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic* / pharmacokinetics
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic* / therapeutic use
  • Camptothecin / adverse effects
  • Camptothecin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Camptothecin / pharmacokinetics
  • Camptothecin / therapeutic use
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Genotype
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic / genetics
  • Irinotecan
  • Pharmacogenetics*


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Irinotecan
  • UGT1A1 enzyme
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • Camptothecin