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Metabolic Activation of Diclofenac by Human Cytochrome P450 3A4:  Role of 5-Hydroxydiclofenac

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Molecular and Cellular Toxicology Section, Laboratory of Molecular Immunology, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, Department of Drug Metabolism, Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, Pennsylvania 19486, and Department of Drug Metabolism, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, New Jersey 07065
Cite this: Chem. Res. Toxicol. 1999, 12, 2, 214–222
Publication Date (Web):January 14, 1999
Copyright © 1999 American Chemical Society

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    Cytochrome P450 2C11 in rats was recently found to metabolize diclofenac into a highly reactive product that covalently bound to this enzyme before it could diffuse away and react with other proteins. To determine whether cytochromes P450 in human liver could catalyze a similar reaction, we have studied the covalent binding of diclofenac in vitro to liver microsomes of 16 individuals. Only three of 16 samples were found by immunoblot analysis to activate diclofenac appreciably to form protein adducts in a NADPH-dependent pathway. Cytochrome P450 2C9, which catalyzes the major route of oxidative metabolism of diclofenac to produce 4‘-hydroxydiclofenac, did not appear to be responsible for the formation of the protein adducts, because sulfaphenazole, an inhibitor of this enzyme, did not affect protein adduct formation. In contrast, troleandomycin, an inhibitor of P450 3A4, inhibited both protein adduct formation and 5-hydroxylation of diclofenac. These findings were confirmed with the use of baculovirus-expressed human P450 2C9 and P450 3A4. One possible reactive intermediate that would be expected to bind covalently to liver proteins was the p-benzoquinone imine derivative of 5-hydroxydiclofenac. This product was formed by an apparent metal-catalyzed oxidation of 5-hydroxydiclofenac that was inhibited by EDTA, glutathione, and NADPH. The p-benzoquinone imine decomposition product bound covalently to human liver microsomes in vitro in a reaction that was inhibited by GSH. In contrast, GSH did not prevent the covalent binding of diclofenac to human liver microsomes. These results suggest that for appreciable P450-mediated bioactivation of diclofenac to occur in vivo, an individual may have to have both high activities of P450 3A4 and perhaps low activities of other enzymes that catalyze competing pathways of metabolism of diclofenac. Moreover, the p-benzoquinone imine derivative of 5-hydroxydiclofenac probably has a role in covalent binding in the liver only under the conditions where levels of NADPH, GSH, and other reducing agents would be expected to be low.

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     National Institutes of Health.

     Present address:  Department of Pathology, The Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 850, Hershey, PA 17033.


     Merck Research Laboratories, West Point, PA.

     Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ.


     To whom correspondence should be addressed:  Molecular and Cellular Toxicology Section, NHLBI, NIH, Building 10, Room 8N110, Bethesda, MD 20892-1760. Telephone:  (301) 496-4841. Fax:  (301) 480-4852. E-mail:  [email protected].

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