Hypermethylation of the DPYD promoter region is not a major predictor of severe toxicity in 5-fluorouracil based chemotherapy.J Exp Clin Cancer Res 2008; 27:54JE
The activity of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), the key enzyme of pyrimidine catabolism, is thought to be an important determinant for the occurrence of severe toxic reactions to 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), which is one of the most commonly prescribed chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of solid cancers. Genetic variation in the DPD gene (DPYD) has been proposed as a main factor for variation in DPD activity in the population. However, only a small proportion of severe toxicities in 5-FU based chemotherapy can be explained with such rare deleterious DPYD mutations resulting in severe enzyme deficiencies. Recently, hypermethylation of the DPYD promoter region has been proposed as an alternative mechanism for DPD deficiency and thus as a major cause of severe 5-FU toxicity.
Here, the prognostic significance of this epigenetic marker with respect to severe 5-FU toxicity was assessed in 27 cancer patients receiving 5-FU based chemotherapy, including 17 patients experiencing severe toxic side effects following drug administration, none of which were carriers of a known deleterious DPYD mutation, and ten control patients. The methylation status of the DPYD promoter region in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was evaluated by analysing for each patient between 19 and 30 different clones of a PCR-amplified 209 base pair fragment of the bisulfite-modified DPYD promoter region. The fragments were sequenced to detect bisulfite-induced, methylation-dependent sequence differences.
No evidence of DPYD promoter methylation was observed in any of the investigated patient samples, whereas in a control experiment, as little as 10% methylated genomic DNA could be detected.
Our results indicate that DYPD promoter hypermethylation is not of major importance as a prognostic factor for severe toxicity in 5-FU based chemotherapy.