Variation in metabolism, toxicity and therapeutic efficacy of thiopurine drugs is largely influenced by genetic polymorphisms in the thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) gene. Determination of TPMT activity is routinely performed in patients to adjust drug therapy. We further optimized a previously established high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method by measuring TPMT activity in whole blood instead of isolated erythrocytes, which is based on conversion of 6-mercaptopurine to 6-methylmercaptopurine using S-adenosyl-methionine as methyl donor. The simplified TPMT whole-blood method showed similar or better analytical and diagnostic performance compared with the former erythrocyte assay. The whole-blood method was linear for TPMT activities between 0 and 40 nmol/(mL·h) with a quantification limit of 0.1 nmol/(mL·h). Within-day imprecision and between-day imprecision were ≤5.1% and ≤8.5%, respectively. The optimized method determining TPMT activity in whole blood (y) showed agreement with the former method determining TPMT activity in erythrocytes (x) (n=45, y=1.218+0.882x; p>0.05). Phenotype-genotype concordance (n=300) of the whole-blood method was better when TPMT activity was expressed per volume of whole blood (specificity 92.2%), whereas correction for hematocrit resulted in lower genotype concordance (specificity 86.9%). A new cutoff for the whole-blood method to distinguish normal from reduced TPMT activity was determined at ≤6.7 nmol/(mL·h). This optimized TPMT phenotyping assay from whole blood using 6-MP as substrate is suitable for research and routine clinical analysis.
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Rieger H, Schmidt P, Schaeffeler E, Abe M, Schiffhauer M, Schwab M, von Ahsen N, Zurek G, Kirchherr H, Shipkova M, Wieland E. Validation of a high-performance liquid chromatography method for thiopurine S-methyltransferase activity in whole blood using 6-mercaptopurine as substrate. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2018 Apr 25;56(5):803-809. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2017-0670.