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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1996 Mar;62(3):798-803.

Biotransformation of chlorpromazine and methdilazine by Cunninghamella elegans.

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  • 1National Center for Toxicological Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Jefferson, Arkansas 72079, USA.


When tested as a microbial model for mammalian drug metabolism, the filamentous fungus Cunninghamella elegans metabolized chlorpromazine and methdilazine within 72 h. The metabolites were extracted by chloroform, separated by high-performance liquid chromatography, and characterized by proton nuclear magnetic resonance, mass, and UV spectroscopic analyses. The major metabolites of chlorpromazine were chlorpromazine sulfoxide (36%), N-desmethylchlorpromazine (11%), N-desmethyl-7-hydroxychlorpromazine (6%), 7-hydroxychlorpromazine sulfoxide (36%), N-hydroxychlorpromazine (11%), 7-hydroxychlorpromazine sulfoxide (5%), and chlorpromazine N-oxide (2%), all of which have been found in animal studies. The major metabolites of methdilazine were 3-hydroxymethdilazine (3%). (18)O(2) labeling experiments indicated that the oxygen atoms in methdilazine sulfoxide, methdilazine N-oxide, and 3-hydroxymethdilazine were all derived from molecular oxygen. The production of methdilazine sulfoxide and 3-hydroxymethdilazine was inhibited by the cytochrome P-450 inhibitors metyrapone and proadifen. An enzyme activity for the sulfoxidation of methdilazine was found in microsomal preparations of C. elegans. These experiments suggest that the sulfoxidation and hydroxylation of methdilazine and chlorpromazine by C. elegans are catalyzed by cytochrome P-450.

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