Genetics and Genomics

A comprehensive population-based study comparing the phenotype and genotype in a pretherapeutic screen of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency



Pretherapeutic screening for dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency is recommended or required prior to the administration of fluoropyrimidine-based chemotherapy. However, the best strategy to identify DPD-deficient patients remains elusive.


Among a nationwide cohort of 5886 phenotyped patients with cancer who were screened for DPD deficiency over a 3 years period, we assessed the characteristics of both DPD phenotypes and DPYD genotypes in a subgroup of 3680 patients who had completed the two tests. The extent to which defective allelic variants of DPYD predict DPD activity as estimated by the plasma concentrations of uracil [U] and its product dihydrouracil [UH2] was evaluated.


When [U] was used to monitor DPD activity, 6.8% of the patients were classified as having DPD deficiency ([U] > 16 ng/ml), while the [UH2]:[U] ratio identified 11.5% of the patients as having DPD deficiency (UH2]:[U] < 10). [U] classified two patients (0.05%) with complete DPD deficiency (> 150 ng/ml), and [UH2]:[U] < 1 identified three patients (0.08%) with a complete DPD deficiency. A defective DPYD variant was present in 4.5% of the patients, and two patients (0.05%) carrying 2 defective variants of DPYD were predicted to have low metabolism. The mutation status of DPYD displayed a very low positive predictive value in identifying individuals with DPD deficiency, although a higher predictive value was observed when [UH2]:[U] was used to measure DPD activity. Whole exon sequencing of the DPYD gene in 111 patients with DPD deficiency and a “wild-type” genotype (based on the four most common variants) identified seven heterozygous carriers of a defective allelic variant.


Frequent genetic DPYD variants have low performances in predicting partial DPD deficiency when evaluated by [U] alone, and [UH2]:[U] might better reflect the impact of genetic variants on DPD activity. A clinical trial comparing toxicity rates after dose adjustment according to the results of genotyping or phenotyping testing to detect DPD deficiency will provide critical information on the best strategy to identify DPD deficiency.

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Fig. 1: Characteristics of DPD activity.
Fig. 2: Distribution of [U] values according to the mutation status of the patients.


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Author information




N.P. and M.-A.L. had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. C.N. and M.-A.L. contributed equally. Study concept and design: NP and MAL. Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: N.P., S.H., S.G., H.B., E.P., J.T., O.L., A.Z., M-A.L., C.N. Drafting of the paper: N.P and M.-A.L. Critical revision of the paper for important intellectual content: N.P., S.G., E.P., J.T., A.Z., M.-A.L., C.N., N.P. Statistical analysis: N.P. and M-A.L. Administrative, technical, or material support: N.P., M.-A.L., C.N. Study supervision: N.P. and M.-A.L.

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Correspondence to Nicolas Pallet.

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Ethics approval and consent to participate

This study received approval (N° 00011928) from the hospital institutional review board (CERAPHP.5). All patients provided written informed consent for study participation and for genetic analyses prior to inclusion. The study has been performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

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Data supporting the results reported in the article can be obtained upon request to the corresponding author.

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The authors declare no competing interests.

Funding information

French National Cancer Institute (Institut National du Cancer, INCa) and Canceropôle Ile de France have provided financial support for this work, none of which has any role in the design and conduct of the study, the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of data, the preparation, review and approval of the paper or the decision to submit the paper for publication.

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Pallet, N., Hamdane, S., Garinet, S. et al. A comprehensive population-based study comparing the phenotype and genotype in a pretherapeutic screen of dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase deficiency. Br J Cancer (2020).

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