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Keywords:

  • 6-thioguanine;
  • 6-mercaptopurine;
  • acute lymphoblastic leukaemia;
  • veno-occlusive disease;
  • childhood

Summary. The case records of 99 consecutive children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia who received either 6-thioguanine (6-TG) or 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) as maintenance therapy for at least 1 year were reviewed for hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD). Overall, 12% of those on 6-TG developed VOD (all boys). Isolated persistent thrombocytopenia appeared to be the earliest indicator of incipient VOD. Multivariate analysis identified male sex and 6-TG as risk factors. In all cases, VOD was mild and reversible on withdrawing 6-TG or replacing it with 6-MP. The data implicate a sex-linked polymorphic variation in xenobiotic pathways of thiopurine metabolism in the pathogenesis of VOD.