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Biochem Pharmacol. 2007 Feb 15;73(4):561-73. Epub 2006 Oct 21.

The metabolomics of (+/-)-arecoline 1-oxide in the mouse and its formation by human flavin-containing monooxygenases.

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Laboratory of Metabolism, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States.


The alkaloid arecoline is a main constituent of areca nuts that are chewed by approximately 600 million persons worldwide. A principal metabolite of arecoline is arecoline 1-oxide whose metabolism has been poorly studied. To redress this, synthetic (+/-)-arecoline 1-oxide was administered to mice (20mg/kg p.o.) and a metabolomic study performed on 0-12h urine using ultra-performance liquid chromatography-coupled time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-TOFMS) with multivariate data analysis. A total of 16 mass/retention time pairs yielded 13 metabolites of (+/-)-arecoline 1-oxide, most of them novel. Identity of metabolites was confirmed by tandem mass spectrometry. The principal pathways of metabolism of (+/-)-arecoline 1-oxide were mercapturic acid formation, with catabolism to mercaptan and methylmercaptan metabolites, apparent CC double-bond reduction, carboxylic acid reduction to the aldehyde (a novel pathway in mammals), N-oxide reduction, and de-esterification. Relative percentages of metabolites were determined directly from the metabolomic data. Approximately, 50% of the urinary metabolites corresponded to unchanged (+/-)-arecoline 1-oxide, 25% to other N-oxide metabolites, while approximately, 30% corresponded to mercapturic acids or their metabolites. Many metabolites, principally mercapturic acids and their derivatives, were excreted as diastereomers that could be resolved by UPLC-TOFMS. Arecoline was converted to arecoline 1-oxide in vitro by human flavin-containing monooxygenases FMO1 (K(M): 13.6+/-4.9muM; V(MAX): 0.114+/-0.01nmolmin(-1)microg(-1) protein) and FMO3 (K(M): 44.5+/-8.0microM; V(MAX): 0.014+/-0.001nmolmin(-1)microg(-1) protein), but not by FMO5 or any of 11 human cytochromes P450. This report underscores the power of metabolomics in drug metabolite mining.

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