Aliment Pharmacol Ther30, 843–853


Background  Thiopurines are increasingly used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), being the most common immunosuppressive therapy; however, potentially harmful interactions between thiopurines and other drugs (especially 5-aminosalicylic acid, 5-ASA) were described.

Aim  To explore potential interactions between thiopurines and concomitant medications.

Methods  A total of 183 consecutive IBD patients were enrolled. Clinical characteristics and concomitant medications were recorded. Thiopurine metabolism was analysed with thiopurine S-methyl transferase (TPMT) genetic variants and enzyme activity assays. Comparisons were carried out with stratification of patients according to clinical characteristics and active treatments.

Results  Based on TPMT genetics, 95% IBD patients were wild-type homozygous, the remaining being heterozygous. Median TPMT activity was 24.9 U/Hgb g (IQR 20.7–29.5). No difference in TPMT activity was noted according to 5-ASA exposure. IBD patients on thiopurines had higher TPMT activity levels, but no dose-effect was evident. No difference in TPMT activity was observed in 41 (63%) patients co-treated with 5-ASA. In patients on active thiopurines also, 6-TGN and 6-MMP levels were evaluated and no significant difference was observed based on co-medication. TPMT activity was independently associated only with thiopurines dose (= 0.016).

Conclusions  Our data suggest the absence of significant interactions between thiopurines and 5-ASA.