Bilirubin metabolism and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 variants in Asians: Pathogenic implications and therapeutic response

Kaohsiung J Med Sci. 2022 Aug;38(8):729-738. doi: 10.1002/kjm2.12579. Epub 2022 Aug 9.


In the Asian general population, at least six single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) in the UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) 1A1 gene have been identified: -3279T>G, -53A(TA)6 TAA>A(TA)7 TAA, 211G>A, 686C>A, 1091C>T, and 1456T>G. Each of these six SNVs was observed in at least four ethnic groups of the 12 Asian populations studied. In East Asian populations, the descending frequency of these six SNVs was as follows: -3279G>[-53A(TA)7 TAA, 211A]>(686A, 1091T)>1456G. Because of the presence of linkage disequilibrium and the expulsion phenomenon, when the SNVs -3279G, -53A(TA)7 TAA, 211A, and 686A were simultaneously involved, 15 instead of the estimated 81 genotypes were observed. Those carrying 686AA or 1456GG developed Gilbert's syndrome or Crigler-Najjar syndrome type 2. Both -53A(TA)7 TAA/A(TA)7 TAA and 211AA are the main causes of Gilbert's syndrome in East Asian populations. In East Asian populations, the 211AA genotype is the main cause of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, whereas -53A(TA)7 TAA/A(TA)7 TAA exerts a protective effect on hyperbilirubinemia development in neonates fed with breast milk. Both 211A and -53A(TA)7 TAA are significantly associated with adverse drug reactions induced by irinotecan (one of the most widely used anticancer agents) in Asians. However, at least three common SNVs (-3279G, -53A(TA)7 TAA, and 211A) should be comprehensively analyzed. This study investigated the clinical significance of these six SNVs and demonstrated that examining UGT1A1 variants in Asian populations is considerably challenging.

Keywords: Gilbert's syndrome; UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 gene; adverse drug reaction; neonatal hyperbilirubinemia; single-nucleotide variants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asian People / genetics
  • Bilirubin
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • Gilbert Disease* / genetics
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn


  • UGT1A1 enzyme
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • Bilirubin