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Issue 1, 2012
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UVA photosensitization of thiopurines and skin cancer in organ transplant recipients

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Abstract

The thiopurines azathioprine, 6-mercaptopurine and 6-thioguanine (6-TG) are important medications for cancer and inflammatory disorders. They are also widely prescribed as immunosuppressants in organ transplant patients. Their metabolism results in the incorporation of 6-TG into patients' DNA, and this increases skin sensitivity to incident UVA. Unlike the canonical DNA bases, which do not absorb UVA to a significant degree, DNA 6-TG is a strong UVA chromophore. It acts as a Type II UVA photosensitizer, and the combination of 6-TG and UVA treatment induces a synergistic toxicity in cultured human cells. Here, we review some of the damage that this interaction causes. Photochemical activation of DNA 6-TG triggers DNA and protein oxidation; it induces DNA breakage, DNA crosslinking, oxidation of DNA bases and the covalent attachment of proteins to DNA. Many of these photochemical DNA lesions are difficult for cells to deal with, and we review the evidence linking thiopurine immunosuppression with genome instability and the high incidence of skin cancer in organ transplant recipients.

Graphical abstract: UVA photosensitization of thiopurines and skin cancer in organ transplant recipients

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Publication details

The article was received on 22 Jun 2011, accepted on 21 Jul 2011 and first published on 23 Aug 2011


Article type: Perspective
DOI: 10.1039/C1PP05194F
Citation: Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2012,11, 62-68
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    UVA photosensitization of thiopurines and skin cancer in organ transplant recipients

    N. R. Attard and P. Karran, Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2012, 11, 62
    DOI: 10.1039/C1PP05194F

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