Drug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals

The Janus kinase 2 inhibitor fedratinib inhibits thiamine uptake: a putative mechanism for the onset of Wernicke's encephalopathy.

PMID 25063672


The clinical development of fedratinib, a Janus kinase (JAK2) inhibitor, was terminated after reports of Wernicke's encephalopathy in myelofibrosis patients. Since Wernicke's encephalopathy is induced by thiamine deficiency, investigations were conducted to probe possible mechanisms through which fedratinib may lead to a thiamine-deficient state. In vitro studies indicate that fedratinib potently inhibits the carrier-mediated uptake and transcellular flux of thiamine in Caco-2 cells, suggesting that oral absorption of dietary thiamine is significantly compromised by fedratinib dosing. Transport studies with recombinant human thiamine transporters identified the individual human thiamine transporter (hTHTR2) that is inhibited by fedratinib. Inhibition of thiamine uptake appears unique to fedratinib and is not shared by marketed JAK inhibitors, and this observation is consistent with the known structure-activity relationship for the binding of thiamine to its transporters. The results from these studies provide a molecular basis for the development of Wernicke's encephalopathy upon fedratinib treatment and highlight the need to evaluate interactions of investigational drugs with nutrient transporters in addition to classic xenobiotic transporters.