The clinical application of UGT1A1 pharmacogenetic testing: gene-environment interactions

Hum Genomics. 2010 Apr;4(4):238-49. doi: 10.1186/1479-7364-4-4-238.


Over the past decade, the number of pharmacogenetic tests has increased considerably, allowing for the development of our knowledge of their clinical application. The uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 gene ( UGT1A1 ) assay is an example of a pharmacogenetic test. Numerous variants have been found in UGT1A1 , the main conjugating enzyme of bilirubin and drugs such as the anticancer drug irinotecan. Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended testing for the presence of UGT1A1*28 , an allele correlated with decreased transcriptional activity, to predict patients at risk of irinotecan toxicity. The administration of other drugs - such as inhibitors of the UGT1A1 enzyme - can clinically mimic the *28 phenotype, whereas inducers of UGT1A1 can increase the glucuronidation rate of the enzyme. The *28 polymorphism is not present in all ethnicities at a similar frequency, which suggests that it is important to study different populations to determine the clinical relevance of testing for UGT1A1*28 and to identify other clinically relevant UGT1A1 variants. Environmental factors such as lifestyle can also affect UGT1A1 activity. This review is a critical analysis of studies on drugs that can be affected by the presence of UGT1A1*28 , the distribution of this polymorphism around the globe, distinct variants that may be clinically significant in African and Asian populations and how lifestyle can affect treatment outcomes that depend on UGT1A1 activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / therapeutic use
  • Environment
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing / methods
  • Genetics, Population
  • Genotype
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics / methods*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Glucuronosyltransferase