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Drug Metab Dispos. 2005 Dec;33(12):1811-8. Epub 2005 Aug 31.

CYP2A6 AND CYP2B6 are involved in nornicotine formation from nicotine in humans: interindividual differences in these contributions.

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  • 1Drug Metabolism and Toxicology, Division of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University, Kakuma-machi, Kanazawa 920-1192, Japan.


Nornicotine is an N-demethylated metabolite of nicotine. In the present study, human cytochrome P450 (P450) isoform(s) involved in nicotine N-demethylation were identified. The Eadie-Hofstee plot of nicotine N-demethylation in human liver microsomes was biphasic with high-affinity (apparent K(m) = 173 +/- 70 microM, V(max) = 57 +/- 17 pmol/min/mg) and low-affinity (apparent K(m) = 619 +/- 68 microM, V(max) = 137 +/- 6 pmol/min/mg) components. Among 13 recombinant human P450s expressed in baculovirus-infected insect cells (Supersomes), CYP2B6 exhibited the highest nicotine N-demethylase activity, followed by CYP2A6. The apparent K(m) values of CYP2A6 (49 +/- 12 microM) and CYP2B6 (550 +/- 46 microM) were close to those of high- and low-affinity components in human liver microsomes, respectively. The intrinsic clearances of CYP2A6 and CYP2B6 Supersomes were 5.1 and 12.5 nl/min/pmol P450, respectively. In addition, the intrinsic clearance of CYP2A13 expressed in Escherichia coli (44.9 nl/min/pmol P450) was higher than that of CYP2A6 expressed in E. coli (2.6 nl/min/pmol P450). Since CYP2A13 is hardly expressed in human livers, the contribution of CYP2A13 to the nicotine N-demethylation in human liver microsomes would be negligible. The nicotine N-demethylase activity in microsomes from 15 human livers at 20 microM nicotine was significantly correlated with the CYP2A6 contents (r = 0.578, p < 0.05), coumarin 7-hydroxylase activity (r = 0.802, p < 0.001), and S-mephenytoin N-demethylase activity (r = 0.694, p < 0.005). The nicotine N-demethylase activity at 100 microM nicotine was significantly correlated with the CYP2B6 contents (r = 0.677, p < 0.05) and S-mephenytoin N-demethylase activities (r = 0.740, p < 0.005). These results as well as the inhibition analyses suggested that CYP2A6 and CYP2B6 would significantly contribute to the nicotine N-demethylation at low and high substrate concentrations, respectively. The contributions of CYP2A6 and CYP2B6 would be dependent on the expression levels of these isoforms in any human liver.

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