Background and Aim: Thiopurines have a favorable benefit–risk ratio in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. A feared adverse event of thiopurine therapy is myelotoxicity, mostly occurring due to toxic concentrations of the pharmacologically active metabolites 6-thioguaninenucleotides. In oncology, myelosuppression has also been associated with elevated 6-methylmercaptopurine (6-MMP). In this case series, we provide a detailed overview of 6-MMP-induced myelotoxicity in inflammatory bowel disease patients. Methods: We retrospectively scrutinized pharmacological laboratory databases of five participating centers over a 5-year period. Patients with leukocytopenia at time of elevated 6-MMP levels (>5700 pmol/8 × 108 red blood cells) were included for detailed chart review. Results: In this case series, we describe demographic, clinical, and pharmacological aspects of 24 cases of 6-MMP-induced myelotoxicity on weight-based thiopurine therapy with a median steady-state 6-MMP level of 14 500 pmol/8 × 108 red blood cells (range 6600–48 000). All patients developed leukocytopenia (white blood cell count 2.7 ± 0.9 × 109/L) after a median period of 11 weeks after initiation of thiopurine therapy (interquartile range 6–46 weeks). Eighteen patients (75%) developed concurrent anemia (median hemoglobin concentration 6.9 × 109/L), and four patients developed concurrent thrombocytopenia (median platelet count 104 × 109/L). Leukocytopenia resolved in 20 patients (83%) within 4 weeks upon altered thiopurine treatment regimen, and white blood cell count was increasing, but not yet normalized, in the remaining four patients. Conclusion: We observed that thiopurine-induced myelotoxicity also occurs because of (extremely) high 6-MMP concentrations in patients with a skewed thiopurine metabolism. Continued treatment with adapted thiopurine therapy was successful in almost all patients.

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Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Meijer, B. (Berrie), Kreijne, J., van Moorsel, S.A.W. (Sofia A W), Derijks, L. J. J., Bouma, G., Mulder, C., … de Boer, N. (2017). 6-methylmercaptopurine-induced leukocytopenia during thiopurine therapy in inflammatory bowel disease patients. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 32(6), 1183–1190. doi:10.1111/jgh.13656