Deletion of glutathione-S-transferase M1 reduces azathioprine metabolite concentrations in young patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Gabriele Stocco, Eva Cuzzoni, Sara De Iudicibus, Raffaella Franca, Diego Favretto, Noelia Malusà, Margherita Londero, Gabriele Cont, Fiora Bartoli, Stefano Martelossi, Alessandro Ventura, Giuliana Decorti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


GOALS: To investigate, in young patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) treated with azathioprine, the association between genetic polymorphisms of thiopurine-S-methyl-transferase (TPMT), inosine-triphosphate-pyrophosphatase (ITPA), and glutathione-S-transferases (GST), involved in azathioprine metabolism, the concentration of the main metabolites of azathioprine, thioguanine nucleotides (TGNs) and the methylated nucleotides (MMPN), and the dose of the medication. BACKGROUND: Azathioprine is widely used in IBD as an immunosuppressive agent, particularly to maintain remission in patients with steroid refractory disease. Azathioprine is a prodrug and requires conversion to its active form mercaptopurine, which has no intrinsic activity, and is activated by the enzymes of the purine salvage pathway to TGNs. Polymorphisms in genes of enzymes involved in azathioprine metabolism influence the efficacy and toxicity of treatment. STUDY: Seventy-five young patients with IBD treated with azathioprine at least for 3 months were enrolled and genotyped for the selected genes; for these patients, TGN and MMPN metabolites were measured by high performance liquid chromatography in erythrocytes. RESULTS: GST-M1 deletion was associated with lower TGN/dose ratio (P=0.0030), higher azathioprine dose requirement (P=0.022), and reduced response to therapy (P=0.0022). TPMT variant genotype was associated with lower MMPN concentration (P=0.0064) and increased TGN/dose ratio (P=0.0035). ITPA C94A polymorphism resulted in an increased MMPN concentration (P=0.037). CONCLUSIONS: This study describes the effect of candidate genetic polymorphisms in TPMT, ITPA, and GST-M1 on azathioprine pharmacokinetics in IBD patients, showing, for the first time, relevant effects of GST-M1 genotype on azathioprine metabolites concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-51
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • azathioprine
  • glutathione-S-transferases
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • pharmacogenetics
  • thiopurine-S-methyl-transferase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


Dive into the research topics of 'Deletion of glutathione-S-transferase M1 reduces azathioprine metabolite concentrations in young patients with inflammatory bowel disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this