Hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) is currently the only curative therapeutic option for the treatment of thalassemia. In spite of the high cure rate, HSCT can lead to life-threatening adverse events in some patients. Busulfan (Bu) is a key component of the conditioning regimen prior to HSCT. Inter-individual differences in Bu pharmacokinetics (PK) are hypothesized to influence Bu efficacy and toxicity. Since Bu is mainly metabolized by glutathione S-transferase (GST), we investigated the relationship of GSTA1 and GSTM1 genotypes with first-dose PK and HSCT outcomes in 44 children with thalassemia intermedia and thalassemia major. All children received a myeloablative conditioning regimen with IV Bu. Association analysis revealed a relationship between GSTA169C>T (or haplotype ∗A/∗B) and first Bu dose PK that was dependent on sex and Pesaro risk classification (PRC). Among female patients and patients with PRC I-II, homozygous individuals for the GSTA1T-69 allele defining haplotype ∗B, had higher Bu exposure and lower clearance (P≤0.01). Association with HSCT outcomes showed that patients with the GSTM1 null genotypes had higher occurrence of regimen-related toxicity (P=0.01). These results suggest that GST genotypes could be useful to tailor the first Bu dose accordingly to improve HSCT outcome.
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