The role of cytochrome P450 3A4 in alfentanil clearance. Implications for interindividual variability in disposition and perioperative drug interactions.

Journal Article (Clinical Trial;Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: There is considerable unexplained variability in alfentanil pharmacokinetics, particularly systemic clearance. Alfentanil is extensively metabolized in vivo, and thus systemic clearance depends on hepatic biotransformation. Cytochrome P450 3A4 was previously shown to be the predominant P450 isoform responsible for human liver microsomal alfentanil metabolism in vitro. This investigation tested the hypothesis that P450 3A4 is responsible for human alfentanil metabolism and clearance in vivo. METHODS: Nine healthy male volunteers who provided institutionally approved written informed consent were studied in a three-way randomized crossover design. Each subject received alfentanil (20 micrograms/kg given intravenously) 30 min after midazolam (1 mg injected intravenously) on three occasions: control; high P450 3A4 activity (rifampin induction); and low P450 3A4 activity (selective inhibition by troleandomycin). Midazolam is a validated selective in vivo probe for P450 3A4 activity. Venous blood was sampled for 24 h and plasma concentrations of midazolam and alfentanil and their primary metabolites 1'-hydroxymidazolam and noralfentanil were measured by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Pharmacokinetic parameters were determined by two-stage analysis using both noncompartmental and three-compartment models. RESULTS: Plasma alfentanil concentration-time profiles depended significantly on P450 3A4 activity. Alfentanil noncompartmental clearance was 5.3 +/- 2.3, 14.6 +/- 3.8, and 1.1 +/- 0.5, and elimination half-life was 58 +/- 13, 35 +/- 7, and 630 +/- 374 min, respectively, in participants with normal (controls), high (rifampin), and low (troleandomycin) P450 3A4 activity (means +/- SD; P < 0.05 compared with controls). Multicompartmental modeling suggested a time-dependent inhibition-resynthesis model for troleandomycin effects on P450 3A4 activity, characterized as k10(t) = k10[1-phi e-alpha(t-tzero)], where k10(t) is the apparent time-dependent rate constant, k10 is the uninhibited rate constant, phi is the fraction of P450 3A4 inhibited, and alpha is the apparent P450 3A4 reactivation rate. Alfentanil clearance was calculated as V1 k10 for controls and men receiving rifampin, and as V1.average k10(t) for men receiving troleandomycin. This clearance was 4.9 +/- 2.1, 13.2 +/- 3.6, and 1.5 +/- 0.8, respectively, in controls and in men receiving rifampin or troleandomycin. There was a significant correlation (r = 0.97, P < 0.001) between alfentanil systemic clearance and P450 3A4 activity. CONCLUSIONS: Modulation of P450 3A4 activity by rifampin and troleandomycin significantly altered alfentanil clearance and disposition. These results strongly suggest that P450 3A4 is the major isoform of P450 responsible for clinical alfentanil metabolism and clearance. This observation, combined with the known population variability in P450 3A4 activity, provides a mechanistic explanation for the interindividual variability in alfentanil disposition. Furthermore, known susceptibility of human P450 3A4 activity to induction and inhibition provides a conceptual framework for understanding and predicting clinical alfentanil drug interactions. Finally, human liver microsomal alfentanil metabolism in vitro is confirmed as an excellent model for human alfentanil metabolism in vivo.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kharasch, ED; Russell, M; Mautz, D; Thummel, KE; Kunze, KL; Bowdle, A; Cox, K

Published Date

  • July 1997

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 87 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 36 - 50

PubMed ID

  • 9232132

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-3022

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/00000542-199707000-00006


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States