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

Single-dose disulfiram does not inhibit CYP2A6 activity.

BACKGROUND: Disulfiram and its primary metabolite diethyldithiocarbamate are effective mechanism-based inhibitors of human liver cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) in vitro. A single dose of disulfiram, which significantly diminishes human P450 2E1 activity in vivo, has been used to investigate the role of CYP2E1 in human drug metabolism and to prevent CYP2E1-mediated biotransformation. Nevertheless, the specificity of single-dose disulfiram toward human CYP2E1 in vivo is unknown. Because diethyldithiocarbamate also inhibits human liver CYP2A6 in vitro, this investigation explored the effect of single-dose disulfiram on human CYP2A6 activity in vivo. METHODS: CYP2A6 activity was assessed by the 7-hydroxylation of coumarin, which is catalyzed selectively by CYP2A6. Ten healthy volunteers received 50 mg oral coumarin on two occasions in a randomized crossover design, approximately 10 hours after 500 mg oral disulfiram was administered or after no pretreatment (control group). Plasma and urine 7-hydroxycoumarin and plasma coumarin concentrations were determined by HPLC. RESULTS: The area under the plasma 7-hydroxycoumarin versus time curve (2.69 +/- 0.90 was not decreased after disulfiram pretreatment (3.33 +/- 0.93 Furthermore, maximum plasma concentration (Cmax) of 7-hydroxycoumarin (1.4 +/- 0.5 versus 1.8 +/- 0.6 micrograms/ml) and time to reach Cmax (1.0 +/- 0.2 and 1.0 +/- 0.4 hour) were unchanged by disulfiram pretreatment. Urinary 7-hydroxycoumarin excretion over a 24-hour period (38.9 +/- 10.8 mg) was also undiminished by disulfiram pretreatment (45.2 +/- 6.6 mg). CONCLUSIONS: Single-dose disulfiram does not inhibit human CYP2A6 activity in vivo. When single-dose disulfiram is used as an in vivo probe for P450, inhibition of drug metabolism suggests involvement of CYP2E1 but not CYP2A6.[1]


  1. Single-dose disulfiram does not inhibit CYP2A6 activity. Kharasch, E.D., Hankins, D.C., Baxter, P.J., Thummel, K.E. Clin. Pharmacol. Ther. (1998) [Pubmed]
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