Prevalence of thiopurine S-methyltransferase gene polymorphisms in patients with inflammatory bowel disease from the island of Crete, Greece

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There is evidence that genotyping for the thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) gene variants is useful for the prediction of response to thiopurine analogs (azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine) in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The aim of the present study was to determine the prevalence of TPMT gene polymorphisms in a genetic homogenous population of IBD patients in Crete and to correlate the results with adverse reactions to thiopurine drugs.

Patients and methods

Genotyping for the most common TPMT variants TPMT*2, TPMT*3A, TPMT3*C, and TPMT*3B was performed using the PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism method in 223 consecutive IBD patients and 119 age-matched and sex-matched healthy controls. The hospital medical records were reviewed for thiopurine use in these patients and related adverse events.


The prevalence of TPMT variants TPMT*2, TPMT*3A, TPMT*3B, and TPMT*3C was 1.8, 2.7, 1.3, and 1.8%, respectively. The G238C mutation was detected in four (1.8%) out of 223 patients, three (1.3%) patients were carriers of the G460A mutation, four (1.8%) of the A719G mutation, and six (2.7%) of both G460A and A719G mutations. In healthy controls, only one (0.8%) carried both the G460A and the A719G mutation, whereas TPMT*2, TPMT*3C, and TPMT*3B were not detected. None of the genotypes was homozygous. A statistically significant correlation between the presence of the G460A mutation and the development of leucopenia after the administration of thiopurines was observed (P=0.048).


This study showed a lower frequency of total TPMT variants and a higher frequency of TPMT*3B in Cretan IBD patients compared with other Caucasian populations. The presence of the G460A mutation is associated with the development of leukopenia.

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