Characterization of the human cytochrome P450 enzymes involved in the metabolism of dihydrocodeine

L. C. Kirkwood, R. L. Nation, A. A. Somogyi

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Aims. Using human liver microsomes from donors of the CYP2D6 poor and extensive metabolizer genotypes, the role of individual cytochromes P-450 in the oxidative metabolism of dihydrocodeine was investigated. Methods. The kinetics of formation of N- and O-demethylated metabolites, nordihydrocodeine and dihydromorphine, were determined using microsomes from six extensive and one poor metabolizer and the effects of chemical inhibitors selective for individual P-450 enzymes of the 1A, 2A, 2C, 2D, 2E and 3A families and of LKM1 (anti-CYP2D6) antibodies were studied. Results. Nordihydrocodeine was the major metabolite in both poor and extensive metabolizers. Kinetic constants for N-demethylation derived from the single enzyme Michaelis-Menten model did not differ between the two groups. Troleandomycin and erythromycin selectively inhibited N-demethylation in both extensive and poor metabolizers. The CYP3A inducer, α-naphthoflavone, increased N-demethylation rates. The kinetics of formation of dihydromorphine in both groups were best described by a single enzyme Michaelis-Menten model although inhibition studies in extensive metabolizers suggested involvement of two enzymes with similar K(m) values. The kinetic constants for O-demethylation were significantly different in extensive and poor metabolizers. The extensive metabolizers had a mean intrinsic clearance to dihydromorphine more than ten times greater than the poor metabolizer. The CYP2D6 chemical inhibitors, quinidine and quinine, and LKM1 antibodies inhibited O-demethylation in extensive metabolizers; no effect was observed in microsomes from a poor metabolizer. Conclusions, CYP2D6 is the major enzyme mediating O-demethylation of dihydrocodeine to dihydromorphine. In contrast, nordihydrocodeine formation is predominantly catalysed by CYP3A.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-555
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 1997


  • CYP2D6
  • CYP3A
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Human liver microsomes
  • MEtabolism

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