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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Mar;56(12):881-8.

Cytochrome P450 isoforms involved in melatonin metabolism in human liver microsomes.

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Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences and Technology, Division of Clinical Pharmacology, Huddinge University Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, 14186 Stockholm, Sweden.



The present study was carried out to identify the cytochrome P450 enzyme(s) involved in the 6-hydroxylation and O-demethylation of melatonin.


The formation kinetics of 6-hydroxymelatonin and N-acetylserotonin were determined using human liver microsomes and cDNA yeast-expressed human enzymes (CYP1A2, 2C9 and 2C19) over the substrate concentration range 1-1000 microM. Selective inhibitors and substrates of various cytochrome P450 enzymes were also employed.


Fluvoxamine was a potent inhibitor of 6-hydroxymelatonin formation, giving 50 +/- 5% and 69 +/- 9% inhibition at concentrations of 1 microM and 10 microM, respectively, after incubation with 50 microM melatonin. Furafylline, sulphaphenazole and omeprazole used at low and high concentrations substantially inhibited both metabolic pathways. cDNA yeast-expressed CYP1A2, CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 catalysed the formation of the two metabolites, confirming the data obtained with specific inhibitors and substrates.


Our results strongly suggest that 6-hydroxylation, the main metabolic pathway of melatonin, is mediated mainly, but not exclusively, by CYP1A2, the high-affinity enzyme involved in melatonin metabolism, confirming the observation that a single oral dose of fluvoxamine increases nocturnal serum melatonin levels in healthy subjects. Furthermore, the results indicate that there is a potential for interaction with drugs metabolised by CYP1A2 both at physiological levels and after oral administration of melatonin, while CYP2C19 and CYP2C9 are assumed to be less important.

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