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Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2015 Jul;53(6):501-10. doi: 10.3109/15563650.2015.1049355. Epub 2015 May 22.

CYP2D6 genetic polymorphisms and their relevance for poisoning due to amfetamines, opioid analgesics and antidepressants.

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Louvain centre for Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Institut de recherche expérimentale et clinique, Université catholique de Louvain , Belgium.

Erratum in

  • Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2015 Jul;53(6). doi:10.3109/15563650.2015.1059025.



Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) is a member of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) superfamily involved in the biotransformation of drugs and substances of abuse encountered in clinical toxicology. Among the CYP superfamily, the CYP2D6 gene is considered as the most polymorphic as more than 105 different alleles have been identified so far. CYP2D6 genetic polymorphisms have the potential to affect the toxicity of their substrates.


This review will focus specifically on CYP2D6 genetic polymorphisms and their relevance for poisoning due to amfetamines, opioid analgesics and antidepressants in humans.


PubMed (up to August 2013) was searched with the following selection criteria: 'CYP2D6 AND (toxicology OR poisoning OR intoxication OR overdose)'. Of the 454 citations retrieved, only 46 papers dealt with the impact of CYP2D6 polymorphisms on poisoning due to amfetamines, opioid analgesics and antidepressants. amfetamines. While some in vitro studies suggest that CYP2D6-mediated metabolites of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamfetamine (MDMA) are substantially more cytotoxic compared with unchanged MDMA, it is not yet confirmed in human cases of MDMA intoxication that extensive/ultra-rapid CYP2D6 metabolisers could be at higher risk. This would also apply to methamfetamine exposure and the related cardiac and central nervous system toxicity. Opioid analgesics. CYP2D6 ultra-rapid metabolisers are more likely to experience the adverse effects of codeine and tramadol. Opioid analgesics that do not rely on CYP2D6 for therapeutic activity, such as morphine and hydromorphone, may therefore be a better alternative to codeine and tramadol, with the limitation that these drugs have their own set of adverse reactions. Antidepressants. CYP2D6 poor metabolisers are generally more prone to adverse effects. Among them, the four drugs with the highest level of evidence are amitriptyline, nortriptyline, venlafaxine and fluoxetine. Further data are needed, however, for doxepin and paroxetine, while citalopram adverse effects seem definitely less influenced by CYP2D6 genetic polymorphisms.


Either poor or extensive/ultra-rapid CYP2D6 metabolisers may be exposed to toxic effects of amfetamines, opioid analgesics and antidepressants. In these three categories, the level of evidence is substance dependent, with differences within the same pharmacological class.


Antidepressants; CYP2D6; Designer drugs; Opioid analgesics; Poisoning; Toxicogenetics

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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