The allopurinol metabolite, oxypurinol, drives oligoclonal expansions of drug-reactive T cells in resolved hypersensitivity cases and drug-naïve healthy donors

Nicole A. Mifsud, Patricia T. Illing, Rebecca Ho, Johanna E. Tuomisto, Heidi Fettke, Kerry A. Mullan, James McCluskey, Jamie Rossjohn, Julian Vivian, Rangsima Reantragoon, Anthony W. Purcell

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Allopurinol (ALP) is a successful drug used in the treatment of gout. However, this drug has been implicated in hypersensitivity reactions that can cause severe to life-threatening reactions such as Stevens–Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Individuals who carry the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-B*58:01 allotype are at higher risk of experiencing a hypersensitivity reaction (odds ratios ranging from 5.62 to 580.3 for mild to severe reactions, respectively). In addition to the parent drug, the metabolite oxypurinol (OXP) is implicated in triggering T cell-mediated immunopathology via a labile interaction with HLA-B*58:01. To date, there has been limited information regarding the T-cell receptor (TCR) repertoire usage of reactive T cells in patients with ALP-induced SJS or TEN and, in particular, there are no reports examining paired αβTCRs. Here, using in vitro drug-treated PBMCs isolated from both resolved ALP-induced SJS/TEN cases and drug-naïve healthy donors, we show that OXP is the driver of CD8+ T cell-mediated responses and that drug-exposed memory T cells can exhibit a proinflammatory immunophenotype similar to T cells described during active disease. Furthermore, this response supported the pharmacological interaction with immune receptors (p-i) concept by showcasing (i) the labile metabolite interaction with peptide/HLA complexes, (ii) immunogenic complex formation at the cell surface, and (iii) lack of requirement for antigen processing to elicit drug-induced T cell responsiveness. Examination of paired OXP-induced αβTCR repertoires highlighted an oligoclonal and private clonotypic profile in both resolved ALP-induced SJS/TEN cases and drug-naïve healthy donors.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • allopurinol
  • drug hypersensitivity reaction
  • oxypurinol
  • T-cell receptor

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