Get access

A New Thiopurine S-Methyltransferase Haplotype Associated With Intolerance to Azathioprine


Corresponding Author:

Pia Bernasconi, PhD, Neurology IV, Foundation Neurological Institute “Carlo Besta,” Via Celoria 11, 20133 Milan, Italy. Email:


The authors have analyzed single nucleotide polymorphisms in the thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) gene in the context of efficacy and toxicity of azathioprine (AZA) to determine possible genotype-phenotype correlations between TPMT allelic variants and response to AZA treatment in 76 Italian patients with myasthenia gravis. They confirm known intronic and exonic TPMT polymorphisms that do not correlate with AZA responses and demonstrate a novel intronic polymorphism in a patient intolerant to AZA. Most importantly, they show that of the 22 AZA-intolerant patients, all 5 who carried mutations of the intolerance-linked haplotype TPMT*3A also carried the intronic T140+114A (rs3931660), all 3 mutations being part of a new haplotype designated TMPT*3E. TPMT*3E was not observed in unresponsive or responsive patients. The association of TPMT*3E with AZA intolerance and its frequency must be ascertained in larger, ethnically different cohorts. Nevertheless, in view of the highly significant association (Psim = 0.0026) between TPMT*3E and AZA intolerance in the study, this new haplotype should be taken into consideration in pharmacogenetic profiling for AZA.

Get access to the full text of this article