CYP3A activity in European American and Japanese men using midazolam as an in vivo probe

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2001 May;69(5):333-9. doi: 10.1067/mcp.2001.115447.


Objective: To investigate putative differences in CYP3A activity between European American and Japanese subjects using midazolam as an in vivo probe.

Methods: Midazolam was administered orally (2 mg) to 22 young healthy Japanese men and, on a separate occasion, to 19 of these by the intravenous route (1 mg). The disposition of the drug and its 1'-hydroxy metabolite were determined and compared with data collected in a similar fashion in 20 young healthy European American men.

Results: Plasma concentrations of midazolam, especially those attained soon after drug administration, were higher after intravenous injection in Japanese subjects than those in European American men. This observation was associated with smaller initial (2.5-fold) and steady-state (1.8-fold) volumes of distribution for the drug; normalization for body weight only modestly reduced these differences. The systemic clearance value of midazolam was 25% lower (P < .03) in Japanese subjects, but this difference was not apparent after accounting for the smaller body weights of that group. No statistical differences were noted in the elimination half-life (t 1/2) of midazolam between European American and Japanese subjects. Much greater interindividual variability was observed after oral administration compared with intravenous administration, but significant differences were not found between the 2 groups with respect to the maximum midazolam plasma level or its oral clearance. Absolute oral bioavailability and its associated gastrointestinal and hepatic extraction ratios also showed no statistically significant interracial differences.

Conclusions: On average, hepatic CYP3A, as measured by the metabolism of midazolam, is lower in young healthy Japanese men compared with similar European Americans. However, there is considerable interindividual variability, and body size appears to be an important determinant. After oral administration, even greater variability in the plasma level-time profile of midazolam is present, and no statistically significant or clinically important interracial/ethnic difference is present. Possibly because of smaller body mass and differences in body composition, midazolam has a smaller distribution volume(s) in Japanese men than in European American men that might be an important factor when drugs are administered intravenously.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases*
  • Biological Availability
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • GABA Modulators / blood
  • GABA Modulators / metabolism
  • GABA Modulators / pharmacokinetics*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Midazolam / blood
  • Midazolam / metabolism
  • Midazolam / pharmacokinetics*
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • GABA Modulators
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating
  • Midazolam