Background: Azathioprine is frequently used in severe eczema. It is converted in the liver into active metabolites, including 6-thioguanine nucleotide (6-TGN) and methylated 6-methylmercaptopurine (6-MMP). In the past, the therapeutic potential of azathioprine may have not been fully utilized. Recent investigations on inflammatory bowel disease have led to a better understanding of azathioprine metabolism and optimizing treatment. Objective: To investigate whether measuring thiopurine metabolites in circulation can improve the effectiveness and safety of azathioprine treatment in patients with atopic dermatitis and/or chronic hand/foot eczema. Methods: Azathioprine metabolite levels were measured in eczema patients during maintenance treatment (Part I) and dose escalation (Part II). Clinical effectiveness, hepatotoxicity, and bone marrow suppression were analyzed and TPMT genotype was assessed. Results: A wide variation in metabolite levels in all dose groups was observed. In Part I (32 patients), there were no significant differences in 6-TGN levels between clinical responders and non-responders (p = .806). No hepatoxicity or myelotoxicity was observed. In Part II, all 6-TGN and 6-MMP levels increased during dose escalation. Hypermethylation was observed in 2/8 patients. Conclusion: For individual eczema patients treated with azathioprine, routinely measuring 6-TGN and 6-MMP can be helpful in optimizing azathioprine dose, improving clinical effectiveness, and preventing side effects.

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Journal of Dermatological Treatment
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Garritsen, F.M. (F. M.), Van Der Schaft, J., Bruijnzeel-Koomen, C. A., van Schaik, R., de Graaf, M. (M.), van den Broek, M., & de Bruin-Weller, M. (2017). Thiopurine metabolite levels in patients with atopic dermatitis and/or chronic hand/foot eczema treated with azathioprine. Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 1–8. doi:10.1080/09546634.2017.1373738