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Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1991 Jun;31(6):689-92.

The activation of the biguanide antimalarial proguanil co-segregates with the mephenytoin oxidation polymorphism--a panel study.

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Department of Parasitology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.


The activation of the antimalarial drug proguanil (PG) to the active metabolite cycloguanil (CG) has been evaluated in a panel of 18 subjects. These subjects had previously been screened and classified as mephenytoin poor (PMm) or extensive metabolisers (EMm) and sparteine poor (PMs) or extensive metabolisers (EMs). Five subjects had the phenotype PMm/EMs, one was PMm/PMs, six subjects were EMm/PMs and six were EMm/EMs. The PG/CG ratio in urine (8 h) was significantly higher in PMm than in EMm (P = 0.0013). This study shows that the P450-isozyme involved in the polymorphic oxidation of mephenytoin is of critical importance in the activation of PG to CG and this may explain the large intersubject variability in CG concentrations in man. PMm make up about 3% of Caucasians, but up to about 20% of Orientals. From the present study, it may be anticipated that the antimalarial effect of PG is absent or impaired in this phenotype. The sparteine polymorphism appeared not to influence the activation of PG to CG significantly.

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