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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Mar;51(3):281-5.

Involvement of human liver cytochrome P4502B6 in the metabolism of propofol.

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Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Osaka City University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.



To determine the cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms involved in the oxidation of propofol by human liver microsomes.


The rate constant calculated from the disappearance of propofol in an incubation mixture with human liver microsomes and recombinant human CYP isoforms was used as a measure of the rate of metabolism of propofol. The correlation of these rate constants with rates of metabolism of CYP isoform-selective substrates by liver microsomes, the effect of CYP isoform-selective chemical inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies on propofol metabolism by liver microsomes, and its metabolism by recombinant human CYP isoforms were examined.


The mean rate constant of propofol metabolism by liver microsomes obtained from six individuals was 4.2 (95% confidence intervals 2.7, 5.7) nmol min(-1) mg(-1) protein. The rate constants of propofol by microsomes were significantly correlated with S-mephenytoin N-demethylation, a marker of CYP2B6 (r = 0.93, P < 0.0001), but not with the metabolic activities of other CYP isoform-selective substrates. Of the chemical inhibitors of CYP isoforms tested, orphenadrine, a CYP2B6 inhibitor, reduced the rate constant of propofol by liver microsomes by 38% (P < 0.05), while other CYP isoform-selective inhibitors had no effects. Of the recombinant CYP isoforms screened, CYP2B6 produced the highest rate constant for propofol metabolism (197 nmol min-1 nmol P450-1). An antibody against CYP2B6 inhibited the disappearance of propofol in liver microsomes by 74%. Antibodies raised against other CYP isoforms had no effect on the metabolism of propofol.


CYP2B6 is predominantly involved in the oxidation of propofol by human liver microsomes.

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