A common missense variant in NUDT15 confers susceptibility to thiopurine-induced leukopenia


Thiopurine therapy, commonly used in autoimmune conditions, can be complicated by life-threatening leukopenia. This leukopenia is associated with genetic variation in TPMT (encoding thiopurine S-methyltransferase). Despite a lower frequency of TPMT mutations in Asians, the incidence of thiopurine-induced leukopenia is higher in Asians than in individuals of European descent. Here we performed an Immunochip-based 2-stage association study in 978 Korean subjects with Crohn’s disease treated with thiopurines. We identified a nonsynonymous SNP in NUDT15 (encoding p.Arg139Cys) that was strongly associated with thiopurine-induced early leukopenia (odds ratio (OR) = 35.6; P(combined) = 4.88 × 10(-94)). In Koreans, this variant demonstrated sensitivity and specificity of 89.4% and 93.2%, respectively, for thiopurine-induced early leukopenia (in comparison to 12.1% and 97.6% for TPMT variants). Although rare, this SNP was also strongly associated with thiopurine-induced leukopenia in subjects with inflammatory bowel disease of European descent (OR = 9.50; P = 4.64 × 10(-4)). Thus, NUDT15 is a pharmacogenetic determinant for thiopurine-induced leukopenia in diverse populations.

Nature Genetics