Improving safety of fluoropyrimidine chemotherapy by individualizing treatment based on dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase activity - Ready for clinical practice?


Fluoropyrimidines remain the cornerstone of treatment for different types of cancer, and are used by an estimated two million patients annually. The toxicity associated with fluoropyrimidine therapy is substantial, however, and affects around 30% of the patients, with 0.5-1% suffering fatal toxicity. Activity of the main 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) metabolic enzyme, dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD), is the key determinant of 5-FU pharmacology, and accounts for around 80% of 5-FU catabolism. There is a consistent relationship between DPD activity and 5-FU exposure on the one hand, and risk of severe and potentially lethal fluoropyrimidine-associated toxicity on the other hand. Therefore, there is a sound rationale for individualizing treatment with fluoropyrimidines based on DPD status in order to improve patient safety. The field of individualized treatment with fluoropyrimidines is now rapidly developing. The main strategies that are available, are based on genotyping of the gene encoding DPD (DPYD) and measuring of pretreatment DPD phenotype. Clinical validity of additional approaches, including genotyping of MIR27A has also recently been demonstrated. Here, we critically review the evidence on clinical validity and utility of strategies available to clinicians to identify patients at risk of developing severe and potentially fatal toxicity as a result of DPD deficiency. We evaluate the advantages and limitations of these methods when used in clinical practice, and discuss for which strategies clinical implementation is currently justified based on the available evidence and, in addition, which additional data will be required before implementing other, as yet less developed strategies.

More about this publication

Cancer treatment reviews
  • Volume 50
  • Pages 23-34
  • Publication date 01-11-2016

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