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J Pharm Pharm Sci. 1999 May-Aug;2(2):47-52.

Cytochrome P450 3A4 in vivo ketoconazole competitive inhibition: determination of Ki and dangers associated with high clearance drugs in general.

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Arishel Inc., North Potomac, Maryland, USA.


Assuming complete hepatic substrate metabolism and system linearity, quantitative effects of in vivo competitive inhibition are investigated. Following oral administration of a substrate in the presence of a competitive inhibitor, determination of the inhibition constant (Ki) is possible when plasma concentration-time profiles of both substrate and inhibitor are available. When triazolam is the P450 3A4 substrate and ketoconazole the competitive inhibitor, Ki approximately 1.2 microg/mL in humans. The effects of competitive inhibition can be divided into two components: first-pass hepatic metabolism and systemic metabolism. For drugs with high hepatic extraction ratios, the impact of competitive inhibition on hepatic first-pass metabolism can be particularly dramatic. For example, human terfenadine hepatic extraction goes from 95% in the absence of a competitive inhibitor to 35% in the presence of one (ketoconazole, 200 mg po Q 12 h dosed to steady-state). First-pass extraction therefore goes from 5% in the absence of the inhibitor to 65% in its presence. The combined effect on first-pass and systemic metabolism produces an approximate 37 fold increase in terfenadine area under the plasma concentration-time curve. Assuming intact drug is active and/or toxic, development of metabolized drugs with extensive first-pass metabolism should be avoided if possible, since inhibition of metabolism may lead to profound increases in exposure.

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