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Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 Jun;24(6):678-82.

Metabolism of ipecac alkaloids cephaeline and emetine by human hepatic microsomal cytochrome P450s, and their inhibitory effects on P450 enzyme activities.

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New Drug Discovery Laboratories R&D Division, Tsumura & Co.. Ltd., Inashiki, Ibaraki, Japan.


In this study, we identified the metabolites and the CYP forms that are specifically involved in emetine O-demethylation in human liver microsomes, and cleared the inhibitory potential of cephaeline and emetine on the activity of the major drug-metabolizing CYP enzymes. Incubation of emetine with human liver microsomes yielded three metabolites identified by using HPLC by comparison of the retention time with the authentic sample of cephaeline, 9-O-demethylemetine and 10-O-demethylemetine. CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 were able to metabolize emetine to cephaeline and 9-O-demethylemetine, and CYP3A4 also participated in metabolizing emetine to 10-O-demethylemetine. Cephaeline and emetine inhibited probe substrates metabolism. IC50 for cephaeline against CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 were 121 and 1000 microM, respectively. For the emetine, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 were 80 and 480 microM, respectively. Inhibition constants (Ki) for both compounds on the CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 activities were determined by graphic analysis of Dixon plots at various concentrations. The obtained Ki values of cephaeline for CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 were 54 and 355 microM, respectively, and the values of emetine were 43 and 232 microM, respectively. We concluded that these in vitro inhibitions of cephaeline and emetine would hardly increase plasma concentrations of co-administered drugs in clinical therapy.

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