Also known as 6 MP, 6 Thiohypoxanthine, 6 Thiopurine, 6-MP, 6-Mercaptopurine, 6-Mercaptopurine Monohydrate, 6-Purinethiol, 6-Thiohypoxanthine, 6-Thiopurine, 6-Thioxopurine, Alti-Mercaptopurine, Azathiopurine, BW 57-323H, Flocofil, Ismipur, Leukerin, Leupurin, Mercaleukim, Mercaleukin, Mercaptina, Mercaptopurina, Mercaptopurinum, Mercapurin, Mern, NCI-C04886, Puri-Nethol, Purimethol, Purinethiol, Purinethol, U-4748, WR-2785

A thiopurine-derivative antimetabolite with antineoplastic and immunosuppressive activities. Produced through the metabolism of mercaptopurine by hypoxanthine-guanine phosphoribosyltransferase (HGPRT), mercaptopurine metabolites 6-thioguanosine-5′-phosphate (6-thioGMP) and 6-thioinosine monophosphate (T-IMP) inhibit nucleotide interconversions and de novo purine synthesis, thereby blocking the formation of purine nucleotides and inhibiting DNA synthesis. This agent is also incorporated into DNA in the form of deoxythioguanosine, which results in the disruption of DNA replication. In addition, mercaptopurine is converted to 6-methylmercaptopurine ribonucleoside (MMPR) by 6-thiopurine methyltransferase; MMPRs are also potent inhibitors of de novo purine synthesis. (NCI04)

Originator: NCI Thesaurus | Source: The website of the National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov)

Can I take Mercaptopurine while breastfeeding?

Most sources consider breastfeeding to be contraindicated during maternal antineoplastic drug therapy, although antimetabolites such as mercaptopurine appear to pose the least risk to breastfed infants.[1] After high-dose chemotherapy, it might be possible to breastfeed safely during intermittent therapy with an appropriate period of breastfeeding abstinence. Although no data are available to determine an appropriate period to withhold breastfeeding, the drug’s terminal half-life suggests that withholding breastfeeding for 1 to 2 days may be sufficient. Chemotherapy may adversely affect the normal microbiome and chemical makeup of breastmilk.[2]

In the treatment of conditions such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, low doses of mercaptopurine (6-MP) for immunosuppression appear to be acceptable.[3][4][5][6][7][8] No active metabolites of mercaptopurine were found in the blood of breastfed infants whose mothers were taking azathioprine and no adverse effects attributable to mercaptopurine or azathioprine have been noted. See the Azathioprine record for details. Mothers with decreased activity of the enzyme that detoxifies mercaptopurine metabolites may transmit higher levels of drug to their infants in breastmilk. It might be desirable to monitor exclusively breastfed infants with a complete blood count with differential, and liver function tests if mercaptopurine is used during lactation, although some authors feel that monitoring is unnecessary.[9]

Drug levels

Mercaptopurine is the active metabolite of azathioprine. It is further metabolized to active metabolites including 6-methylmercaptopurine, thioguanine, 6-thioguanine nucleosides (6-TGNs) and 6-methylmercaptopurine nucleosides (6-MMPN). The enzyme thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) is responsible for metabolism of 6-TGNs. Deficiencies in this enzyme can lead to excessive toxicity.

Maternal Levels. Mercaptopurine milk levels were measured in 2 patients receiving azathioprine following renal transplantation. In one, peak milk levels occurred 2 and 8 hours after a 75 mg oral dose and were 3.4 and 4.5 mcg/L respectively. In the other, a peak milk level of 18 mcg/L occurred 2 hours after a 25 mg oral dose. Serum levels were not measured.[10]

Four women receiving an immunomodulator to treat inflammatory bowel disease had metabolite levels measured in milk during the first 6 weeks postpartum. The abstract does not mention the specific drug and dose being taken, but the azathioprine metabolites 6-methylmercaptopurine (6-MMP) and 6-thioguanine nucleosides (6-TGNs) were measured. Although therapeutic levels were found in maternal serum, 6-MMP (<650 mcg/L) and 6-TGNs were undetectable (<123 mcg/L) in milk (time of collection not stated).[11] Infant Levels. Four infants were breastfed (3 exclusively, 1 rarely received formula) during maternal use of azathioprine orally in dosages of 1.2 to 2.1 mg/kg daily. All of the mothers and infants had the wild type TPMT *1/*1 genotype and all of the mothers had normal enzyme activity. At 3 to 3.5 months of age, all of the infants’ had undetectable blood levels of 6-TGNs and 6-MMPN.[12]

Effects in breastfed infants

Mercaptopurine is the active metabolite of azathioprine. It is further metabolized to active metabolites including 6-methylmercaptopurine, thioguanine, 6-thioguanine nucleosides (6-TGNs) and 6-methylmercaptopurine nucleosides (6-MMPN). The enzyme thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) is responsible for metabolism of 6-TGNs. Deficiencies in this enzyme can lead to excessive toxicity.

Maternal Levels. Mercaptopurine milk levels were measured in 2 patients receiving azathioprine following renal transplantation. In one, peak milk levels occurred 2 and 8 hours after a 75 mg oral dose and were 3.4 and 4.5 mcg/L respectively. In the other, a peak milk level of 18 mcg/L occurred 2 hours after a 25 mg oral dose. Serum levels were not measured.[10]

Four women receiving an immunomodulator to treat inflammatory bowel disease had metabolite levels measured in milk during the first 6 weeks postpartum. The abstract does not mention the specific drug and dose being taken, but the azathioprine metabolites 6-methylmercaptopurine (6-MMP) and 6-thioguanine nucleosides (6-TGNs) were measured. Although therapeutic levels were found in maternal serum, 6-MMP (<650 mcg/L) and 6-TGNs were undetectable (<123 mcg/L) in milk (time of collection not stated).[11] Infant Levels. Four infants were breastfed (3 exclusively, 1 rarely received formula) during maternal use of azathioprine orally in dosages of 1.2 to 2.1 mg/kg daily. All of the mothers and infants had the wild type TPMT *1/*1 genotype and all of the mothers had normal enzyme activity. At 3 to 3.5 months of age, all of the infants’ had undetectable blood levels of 6-TGNs and 6-MMPN.[12]

Possible effects on lactation

Relevant published information was not found as of the revision date.

Alternate drugs to consider

Budesonide, Cyclosporine , Hydroxychloroquine, Infliximab, Mesalamine, Prednisone, Tacrolimus

References

1. Pistilli B, Bellettini G, Giovannetti E et al. Chemotherapy, targeted agents, antiemetics and growth-factors in human milk: How should we counsel cancer patients about breastfeeding? Cancer Treat Rev. 2013;39:207-11. PMID: 23199900

2. Urbaniak C, McMillan A, Angelini M et al. Effect of chemotherapy on the microbiota and metabolome of human milk, a case report. Microbiome. 2014;2 :24. PMID: 25061513

3. Ha C, Dassopoulos T. Thiopurine therapy in inflammatory bowel disease. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010;4 :575-88. PMID: 20932143

4. Van Assche G, Dignass A, Reinisch W et al. The second European evidence-based Consensus on the diagnosis and management of Crohn’s disease: Special situations. J Crohns Colitis. 2010;4:63-101. PMID: 21122490

5. Nielsen OH, Maxwell C, Hendel J. IBD medications during pregnancy and lactation. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11:116-27. PMID: 23897285

6. Mahadevan U, Matro R. Care of the pregnant patient with inflammatory bowel disease. Obstet Gynecol. 2015;126:401-12. PMID: 26241432

7. Nguyen GC, Seow CH, Maxwell C et al. The Toronto Consensus Statements for the Management of IBD in Pregnancy. Gastroenterology. 2016;150:734-57. PMID: 26688268

8. van der Woude CJ, Ardizzone S, Bengtson MB et al. The second European evidenced-based consensus on reproduction and pregnancy in inflammatory bowel disease. J Crohns Colitis. 2015;9:107-24. PMID: 25602023

9. Christensen LA, Dahlerup JF, Nielsen MJ et al. Azathioprine treatment during lactation: authors’ reply. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009;30:91. PMID: 19566905

10. Coulam CB, Moyer TP, Jiang NS et al. Breast-feeding after renal transplantation. Transplant Proc. 1982;13:605-9. PMID: 6817481

11. Kane SV, Present DH. Metabolites to immunomodulators are not detected in breast milk . Am J Gastroenterol. 2004;99 (10 Suppl S):S246-7 Abstract 761.

12. Gardiner SJ, Gearry RB, Roberts RL, Zhang M, Barclay ML, Begg EJ. Exposure to thiopurine drugs through breast milk is low based on metabolite concentrations in mother-infant pairs. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2006;62:453-6. PMID: 16995866

13. de Meij TG, Jharap B, Kneepkens CM et al. Long-term follow-up of children exposed intrauterine to maternal thiopurine therapy during pregnancy in females with inflammatory bowel disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013;38:38-43. PMID: 23675854

14. Mahadevan U, Martin CF, Sandler RS et al. PIANO: a 1000 patient prospective registry of pregnancy outcomes in women with IBD exposed to immunomodulators and biologic therapy. Gastroenterology. 2012;142 (5 Suppl 1):S149. Abstract 865.

Last Revision Date

20160401

Disclaimer:Information presented in this database is not meant as a substitute for professional judgment. You should consult your healthcare provider for breastfeeding advice related to your particular situation. The U.S. government does not warrant or assume any liability or responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information on this Site.

Source: LactMed – National Library of Medicine (NLM)

3D Model of the Mercaptopurine molecule

MolView – data visualization platform