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Xenobiotica. 2011 Aug 9. [Epub ahead of print]

In vitro metabolic interactions between black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and tamoxifen via inhibition of cytochromes P450 2D6 and 3A4.

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Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy, UIC/NIH Center for Botanical Dietary Supplements Research, University of Illinois College of Pharmacy , Chicago, Illinois , USA.


Women who experience hot flashes as a side effect of tamoxifen (TAM) therapy often try botanical remedies such as black cohosh to alleviate these symptoms. Since pharmacological activity of TAM is dependent on the metabolic conversion into active metabolites by the action of cytochromes P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) and 3A4, the objective of this study was to evaluate whether black cohosh extracts can inhibit formation of active TAM metabolites and possibly reduce its clinical efficacy. At 50 μg/mL, a 75% ethanolic extract of black cohosh inhibited formation of 4-hydroxy- TAM by 66.3%, N-desmethyl TAM by 74.6% and α-hydroxy TAM by 80.3%. In addition, using midazolam and dextromethorphan as probe substrates, this extract inhibited CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 with IC(50) values of 16.5 and 50.1 μg/mL, respectively. Eight triterpene glycosides were identified as competitive CYP3A4 inhibitors with IC(50) values ranging from 2.3-5.1 µM, while the alkaloids protopine and allocryptopine were identified as competitive CYP2D6 inhibitors with K(i) values of 78 and 122 nM, respectively. The results of this study suggests that co-administration of black cohosh with TAM might interfere with the clinical efficacy of this drug. However, additional clinical studies are needed to determine the clinical significance of these in vitro results.

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