The association between fasting hypoglycemia and methylated mercaptopurine metabolites in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia


  • Conflict of interest: Nothing to declare.



Symptomatic fasting hypoglycemia has been reported as an unusual side effect in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on maintenance therapy. We evaluated the relation of the red cell 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) metabolite 6-methyl-mercaptopurine (6MMP) with hypoglycemia.


We retrospectively reviewed charts of three patients with ALL and symptomatic hypoglycemia while fasting who were noted to have high levels of 6MMP. All patients had an empiric trial of switching from evening to morning 6-MP administration, and two patients were subsequently switched to twice daily dosing. Patients also received complex carbohydrates at bedtime.


Switching 6-MP from evening to morning administration reduced 6MMP levels yet preserved adequate levels of the active metabolite red cell 6-thioguanine nucleotide (6TGN). All patients had decreased hypoglycemic events when changed from evening to morning dosing. Two patients showed a rebound in 6MMP levels with return of hypoglycemic symptoms. Both were then switched to twice daily 6-MP dosing with one having a decrease in 6MMP and hypoglycemic symptoms.


High levels of 6MMP are associated with symptomatic hypoglycemia which may be mitigated by switching to morning or twice daily 6-MP dose administration. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2014;61:1003–1006. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.