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Drug Metab Dispos. 1999 Nov;27(11):1334-40.

Cytochrome P-450-mediated metabolism of the individual enantiomers of the antidepressant agent reboxetine in human liver microsomes.

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Department of Drug Metabolism, Pharmacia & Upjohn, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49007, USA.


In vitro studies were conducted to identify the hepatic cytochrome P-450 (CYP) enzymes responsible for the oxidative metabolism of the individual enantiomers of reboxetine. In human liver microsomes, each reboxetine enantiomer was metabolized to one primary metabolite, O-desethylreboxetine, and three minor metabolites, two arising via oxidation of the ethoxy aromatic ring and a third yet unidentified metabolite. Over a concentration range of 2 to 200 microM, the rate O-desethylreboxetine formation for either enantiomer conformed to monophasic Michaelis-Menten kinetics. Evidence for a principal role of CYP3A in the formation of O-desethylreboxetine for (S, S)-reboxetine and (R,R)-reboxetine was based on the results from the following studies: 1) inhibition of CYP3A activity by ketoconazole markedly decreased the formation of O-desethylreboxetine, whereas inhibitors selective for other CYP enzymes did not inhibit reboxetine metabolism, 2) formation of O-desethylreboxetine correlated (r(2) = 0.99; p <.001) with CYP3A-selective testosterone 6-beta-hydroxylase activity across a population of human livers (n = 14). Consistent with inhibition and correlation data, O-desethylreboxetine formation was only detectable in incubations using microsomes prepared from a Baculovirus-insect cell line expressing CYP3A4. Furthermore, the apparent K(M) for the O-desethylation of reboxetine in cDNA CYP3A4 microsomes was similar to the affinity constants determined in human liver microsomes. In addition, (S,S)-reboxetine and (R,R)-reboxetine were found to be competitive inhibitors of CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 (K(i) = 2.5 and 11 microM, respectively). Based on the results of the study, it is concluded that the metabolism of both reboxetine enantiomers in humans is principally mediated via CYP3A.

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