Quantification of uracil, dihydrouracil, thymine and dihydrothymine for reliable dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) phenotyping critically depend on blood and plasma storage conditions

Sebastian A H van den Wildenberg, Alexander S Streng, Renske van den Broek, Maarten A C Broeren, Maarten J Deenen, Joost L J van Dongen, Maarten A Hanrath, Chyara Lapré, Luc Brunsveld, Volkher Scharnhorst, Daan van de Kerkhof*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Establishing dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) activity is highly important in determining the correct starting dose of fluoropyrimidines such as 5-fluorouracil and capecitabine. The concentration ratio of endogenous uracil with its metabolite dihydrouracil (DHU) is a well-known parameter that is linked to DPD activity. Concentration ratios such as thymine over its DPD-converted metabolite dihydrothymine (DHT) is less described and may serve as an alternative diagnostic biomarker for DPD activity. In this study, we describe the development and validation of an ultra-high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS) assay for the quantification of uracil, DHU, thymine, and DHT in human plasma. In addition, stability experiments were performed. Uracil and thymine were quantified up to 80.0 ng/mL and DHU and DHT up to 800 ng/mL. Intra- and inter-assay precision were maximum 8.0 % and 7.6 %. respectively. Also, recovery was adequate and significant matrix-effects and carry-over were excluded. Stability experiments showed that uracil concentrations increased with 27-52 % when stored for 1 or 2 h at ambient temperatures compared to cold storage. Thymine, DHU, and DHT concentrations remained stable, thymine after 1 h in plasma excluded, showing the DHT:T ratio might be a more robust marker for DPD activity than DHU:U. In conclusion, we present here a novel assay capable of quantifying uracil, thymine, DHU and DHT in a single analytical run. We provide additional data showing increased stability for DHU, thymine and DHT compared to uracil. This assay may be used as a diagnostic test in future studies, establishing the association of these endogenous biomarker concentrations with DPD activity and safety to treatment with fluoropyrimidines. In addition, future research should also be focused on reducing pre-analytical instability. Standardization in this field is essential to set proper reference values and to allow inter-study comparison on clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115027
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis
Early online date1 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

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