The continuous rediscovery and the benefit–risk ratio of thioguanine, a comprehensive review

Ahmed B. Bayoumy*, Melek Simsek, Margien L. Seinen, Chris J.J. Mulder, Azhar Ansari, Godefridus J. Peters, Nanne K. De Boer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: In the 1950s, thioguanine (TG), a thiopurine-derivative together with azathioprine (AZA) and mercaptopurine (MP), were developed for the treatment of childhood leukemia. Over the years, the use of TG was also explored for other, mainly immune-mediated and inflammatory, diseases such as in the field of dermatology and rheumatology (e.g. psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)) and gastroenterology and hepatology (e.g. inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), autoimmune hepatitis). Areas covered: This review provides a comprehensive overview of all the clinical uses of TG and describes its mechanism of action, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic features, and toxicity. Expert opinion: Thioguanine has shown beneficial clinical effects in hematological (particularly leukemia) and several immune-inflammatory diseases including psoriasis, SLE, polycythemia vera, Churg-Strauss syndrome, IBD, collagenous sprue, refractory celiac disease, and autoimmune hepatitis. Thioguanine is not effective in treating solid-cancers. At relatively low dosages, i.e. 0.2– 0.3mg/kg/day or 20 mg/day, TG has a favorable risk–benefit ratio and is a safe and effective drug in the long-term treatment of amongst other IBD patients. Thioguanine toxicity, especially myelotoxicity, and hepatotoxicity, including nodular regenerative hyperplasia (NRH) of the liver, is limited when dosed adequately. The occurrence of NRH appears dose-dependent and has been especially described during high dose TG above 40 mg/day.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-123
Number of pages13
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology
Volume16
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

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