Some authors suggest that efficacy of 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) in patients with inflammatory bowel disease correlates with circulating 6-thioguanine (6-TG) levels more than 235 pmol/8 × 10 8 red blood cells. The authors evaluated the relation between 6-MP metabolite levels and disease activity in children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease.Methods
Clinical status and hematologic and hepatic parameters were determined in 101 children with inflammatory bowel diseasefrom a single center and compared with 6-MP metabolite levels.Results
There was a trend for higher 6-TG levels among patients in remission than among those with active disease (217 vs. 173); however the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.09). The likelihood of therapeutic response did not increase significantly at 6-TG levels greater than 235 pmol/8 × 10 8 red blood cells (odds ratio 1.7;P = 0.1). In the current study, 58% of patients in remission had 6-TG levels less than 235. However, serial measurements of 6-MP metabolite levels in 50 patients with active disease showed that increasing 6-TG levels correlated significantly with disease remission in patients followed up longitudinally (P = 0.04). Leukopenia was significantly associated with high 6-TG levels (P = 0.03) but not with clinical response (P = 0.2).Conclusions
These data suggest that the target range of 6-TG levels previously described by others did not apply to 58% of the pediatric patients with IBD in remission. However, serial monitoring of 6-MP metabolite levels in individual patients with active disease should allow dose escalation and induction of remission while minimizing the risk of toxicity.