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Drug Metab Dispos. 2006 Jan;34(1):121-30. Epub 2005 Oct 12.

Metabolism and disposition of varenicline, a selective alpha4beta2 acetylcholine receptor partial agonist, in vivo and in vitro.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacokinetics, Dynamics, and Drug Metabolism, Pfizer Global Research and Development, Groton Laboratories, Groton, CT 06340, USA.


The metabolism and disposition of varenicline (7,8,9,10-tetrahydro-6,10-methano-6H-pyrazino[2,3-h][3]benzazepine), a partial agonist of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor for the treatment of tobacco addiction, was examined in rats, mice, monkeys, and humans after oral administration of [14C]varenicline. In the circulation of all species, the majority of drug-related material was composed of unchanged varenicline. In all four species, drug-related material was primarily excreted in the urine. A large percentage was excreted as unchanged parent drug (90, 84, 75, and 81% of the dose in mouse, rat, monkey, and human, respectively). Metabolites observed in excreta arose via N-carbamoyl glucuronidation and oxidation. These metabolites were also observed in the circulation, in addition to metabolites that arose via N-formylation and formation of a novel hexose conjugate. Experiments were conducted using in vitro systems to gain an understanding of the enzymes involved in the formation of the N-carbamoylglucuronide metabolite in humans. N-Carbamoyl glucuronidation was catalyzed by UGT2B7 in human liver microsomes when incubations were conducted under a CO2 atmosphere. The straightforward dispositional profile of varenicline should simplify its use in the clinic as an aid in smoking cessation.

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