Genes implicated in thiopurine-induced toxicity: Comparing TPMT enzyme activity with clinical phenotype and exome data in a paediatric IBD cohort

Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 5:6:34658. doi: 10.1038/srep34658.


The aim of our study was to assess the utility of next generation sequencing (NGS) for predicting toxicity and clinical response to thiopurine drugs in paediatric patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Exome data for 100 patients were assessed against biochemically measured TPMT enzyme activity, clinical response and adverse effects. The TPMT gene and a panel of 15 other genes implicated in thiopurine toxicity were analysed using a gene based statistical test (SKAT-O test). Nine patients out of 100 (Crohn's disease- 67, ulcerative colitis- 23 and IBDU-10) had known TPMT mutations associated with deficient enzyme activity. A novel and a highly pathogenic TPMT variant not detectable through standard genotyping, was identified through NGS in an individual intolerant to thiopurines. Of the 14 patients intolerant to thiopurines, NGS identified deleterious TPMT variants in 5 individuals whereas the biochemical test identified 8 individuals as intolerant (sensitivity 35.7% and 57.14%; specificity 93.75% and 50% respectively). SKAT-O test identified a significant association between MOCOS gene and TPMT activity (p = 0.0015), not previously reported. Although NGS has the ability to detect rare or novel variants not otherwise identified through standard genotyping, it demonstrates no clear advantage over the biochemical test in predicting toxicity in our modest cohort.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Azathioprine / administration & dosage
  • Azathioprine / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / enzymology
  • Crohn Disease* / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease* / enzymology
  • Crohn Disease* / genetics
  • Exome*
  • Female
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mercaptopurine / administration & dosage
  • Mercaptopurine / adverse effects*
  • Methyltransferases* / genetics
  • Methyltransferases* / metabolism
  • Mutation*
  • Sulfurtransferases* / genetics
  • Sulfurtransferases* / metabolism


  • Mercaptopurine
  • Methyltransferases
  • thiopurine methyltransferase
  • MOCOS protein, human
  • Sulfurtransferases
  • Azathioprine