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Chem Res Toxicol. 2005 Dec;18(12):1868-75.

P450 2C18 catalyzes the metabolic bioactivation of phenytoin.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Saint Lucia, Queensland, Australia 4072.


The safe clinical use of phenytoin (PHT) is compromised by a drug hypersensitivity reaction, hypothesized to be due to bioactivation of the drug to a protein-reactive metabolite. Previous studies have shown PHT is metabolized to the primary phenol metabolite, HPPH, then converted to a catechol which then autoxidizes to produce reactive quinone. PHT is known to be metabolized to HPPH by cytochromes P450 (P450s) 2C9 and 2C19 and then to the catechol by P450s 2C9, 2C19, 3A4, 3A5, and 3A7. However, the role of many poorly expressed or extrahepatic P450s in the metabolism and/or bioactivation of PHT is not known. The aim of this study was to assess the ability of other human P450s to catalyze PHT metabolism. P450 2C18 catalyzed the primary hydroxylation of PHT with a kcat (2.46 +/- 0.09 min-1) more than an order of magnitude higher than that of P450 2C9 (0.051 +/- 0.004 min-1) and P450 2C19 (0.054 +/- 0.002 min-1) and Km (45 +/- 5 microM) slightly greater than those of P450 2C9 (12 +/- 4 microM) and P450 2C19 (29 +/- 4 microM). P450 2C18 also efficiently catalyzed the secondary hydroxylation of PHT as well as covalent drug-protein adduct formation from both PHT and HPPH in vitro. While P450 2C18 is expressed poorly in the liver, significant expression has been reported in the skin. Thus, P450 2C18 may be important for the extrahepatic tissue-specific bioactivation of PHT in vivo.

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