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Drug Metab Dispos. 1988 Jan-Feb;16(1):135-40.

Potential metabolic basis for enflurane hepatitis and the apparent cross-sensitization between enflurane and halothane.

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  • 1Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Clinical case reports of unexplained hepatic dysfunction following enflurane and isoflurane anesthesia led to the hypothesis that oxidative metabolism of these drugs by cytochromes P-450 produces immunoreactive, covalently bound acylated protein adducts similar to those implicated in the genesis of halothane-induced hepatic necrosis. Microsomal adducts were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and immunoblotting techniques utilizing specific anti-trifluoroacetyl (TFA) IgG hapten antibodies in rat liver following enflurane, isoflurane, or halothane administration. Preincubation of the antibodies with microsomes from halothane-pretreated rats or with 500 microM TFA-lysine, markedly inhibited adduct recognition, while preincubation with 500 microM acetyllysine had no effect. The relative amounts of immunoreactive protein adducts formed were halothane much greater than enflurane much greater than isoflurane and correlates directly with the relative extents of metabolism of these agents. These results support the view that acyl metabolites of the volatile anesthetics may become covalently bound to hepatic proteins, thus serving as antigens, and thereby account for the apparent cross-sensitization and idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity reported for these drugs.

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