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Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2004 Aug;18(4):493-501.

New metabolic and pharmacokinetic characteristics of thiocolchicoside and its active metabolite in healthy humans.

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Sanofi-Synthélabo, Metabolim and Pharmacokinetic Department, 1 Av. Pierre Brossolette 91385 Chilly Mazarin Cedex, France.


Thiocolchicoside (TCC) has been prescribed for several years as a muscle relaxant drug, but its pharmacokinetic (PK) profile and metabolism still remain largely unknown. Therefore, we re-investigated its metabolism and PK, and we assessed the muscle relaxant properties of its metabolites. After oral administration of 8 mg (a therapeutic dose) of 14C-labelled TCC to healthy volunteers, we found no detectable TCC in plasma, urine or faeces. On the other hand, the aglycone derivative obtained after de-glycosylation of TCC (M2) was observed and, in addition, we identified, as the major circulating metabolic entity, 3-O-glucuronidated aglycone (M1) obtained after glucuro-conjugation of M2. One hour after oral administration, M1 plus M2 accounted for more than 75% of the circulating total radioactivity. The pharmacological activity of these metabolites was assessed using a rat model, the muscle relaxant activity of M1 was similar to that of TCC whereas M2 was devoid of any activity. Subsequently, to investigate the PK profile of TCC in human PK studies, we developed and validated a specific bioanalytical method that combines liquid chromatography and ultraviolet detection to assay both active entities. After oral administration, TCC was not quantifiable with an lower limit of quantification set at 1 ng/mL, whereas its active metabolite M1 was detected. M1 appeared rapidly in plasma (tmax=1 h) and was eliminated with an apparent terminal half-life of 7.3 h. In contrast, after intramuscular administration both active entities (TCC and M1) were present; TCC was rapidly absorbed (tmax=0.4 h) and eliminated with an apparent terminal half-life of 1.5 h. M1 concentration peaked at 5 h and this metabolite was eliminated with an apparent terminal half-life of 8.6 h. As TCC and M1 present an equipotent pharmacological activity, the relative oral pharmacological bioavailability of TCC vs. intramuscular administration was calculated and represented 25%. Therefore, to correctly investigate the PK and bioequivalence of TCC, the biological samples obtained must be assayed with a bioanalytical method able to specifically analyse TCC and its active metabolite M1.

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