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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Oxidative metabolism of zolpidem by human liver cytochrome P450S.

The aim of this study was to identify the form(s) of cytochrome P450 ( CYP) responsible for the biotransformation of zolpidem to its alcohol derivatives which, after rapid conversion to carboxylic acids, represents the main way of metabolism in humans. In human liver microsomes, zolpidem was converted to alcohol derivatives. Production of these correlated with the level of CYP3A4 and with cyclosporin oxidation and erythromycin N-demethylation activities, but not with the level of CYP1A2 nor with ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation or S-mephenytoin 4'-hydroxylation activities. Liver microsomes from CYP2D6-deficient patients exhibited normal activity. Production of alcohol derivatives was significantly inhibited by anti-CYP3A antibodies and by ketoconazole. Antibodies directed against other CYP forms (including CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B4, and CYP2C8), and CYP-specific substrates or inhibitors (including propranolol, coumarin, mephenytoin, sulfaphenazole, quinidine, aniline, and lauric acid) produced a moderate or no inhibitory effect. cDNA-expressed CYP3A4 and CYP1A2 generated significant amounts of one of the alcohol derivatives, whereas CYP2D6 generated both of them in similar amounts. In human hepatocytes in primary culture, zolpidem was extensively and almost exclusively converted to one of the carboxylic acid derivatives, the main species identified in vivo. Treatment of cells with inducers of CYP1A (beta-naphthoflavone) and CYP3A (rifampicin and phenobarbital) greatly increased the rate of production of this metabolite. We conclude that the formation of alcohol derivatives of zolpidem is rate-limiting and principally mediated by CYP3A4. Both CYP1A2 and CYP2D6 participate in alcohol formation; but, because of their low relative level of expression in the human liver, their contribution is minor.[1]


  1. Oxidative metabolism of zolpidem by human liver cytochrome P450S. Pichard, L., Gillet, G., Bonfils, C., Domergue, J., Thénot, J.P., Maurel, P. Drug Metab. Dispos. (1995) [Pubmed]
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