An interaction between the cytochrome P450 probe substrates chlorzoxazone (CYP2E1) and midazolam (CYP3A)

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Nov;52(5):555-61. doi: 10.1046/j.0306-5251.2001.01479.x.


Aims: The use of multiple probe substrates to evaluate the activity of drug metabolizing enzymes requires that there are no inter-substrate interactions. As part of a series of studies to develop a clinically useful collection of probe substrates that could be given alone or in any combination, we observed an interaction between midazolam (MDZ) and another component of the six-drug cocktail. Published data indicated that the interacting component was likely to be chlorzoxazone. This was investigated as part of a second study. The data relating to the interaction from both studies are reported here.

Methods: Both studies were performed in 16 healthy subjects. All treatments were given orally after an overnight fast. In study 1, which was performed to a four-period, open, crossover design, subjects received on separate occasions MDZ 5 mg, diclofenac 25 mg, a four drug cocktail (caffeine 100 mg, mephenytoin 100 mg, debrisoquine 10 mg and chlorzoxazone 250 mg) and a six drug cocktail (caffeine 100 mg, mephenytoin 100 mg, debrisoquine 10 mg, chlorzoxazone 250 mg, diclofenac 25 mg and MDZ 5 mg). In study 2, which was performed to a two-period, open, crossover design, subjects received a five drug cocktail (as the six drug cocktail in the first study, but without chlorzoxazone and with diclofenac dose increased to 50 mg) and a six drug cocktail (as five drug cocktail, with chlorzoxazone 250 mg). In both studies, blood samples were taken for measurement of plasma MDZ and 1-hydroxy MDZ (1-OH MDZ) concentrations. In study 1, blood samples were taken up to 12 h post-dose while in study 2 a single sample was taken 2 h after dosing. In study 1, the potential interaction between MDZ and the other components of the six drug cocktail was assessed by comparing AUClast ratios (1-OH MDZ/MDZ) between the two treatments. Additionally, a single sampling timepoint of 2 h post-dose for determination of concentration, rather than AUC, ratios was established. The 2 h plasma concentration ratios from studies 1 and 2 were combined and a pooled analysis performed to compare ratios within each study (to determine the change in ratio when MDZ was dosed with and without chlorzoxazone) and between studies (to determine the consistency of the ratios when MDZ was given either as part of the two six drug cocktails or when given alone and as part of the five drug cocktail).

Results: In study 1, both the AUClast ratio and the 2 h post-dose plasma concentration ratio were reduced when MDZ was given as part of the six drug cocktail in comparison with those for MDZ alone. This was the result of an increase in MDZ, rather than decrease in 1-OH MDZ, concentrations and was considered to result from a reduction in first pass metabolism of MDZ. The geometric mean AUClast values (with 95% CI) for MDZ were 95.6 (79.0, 115.7) and 160.4 (133.6, 192.6) microg l(-1) h when given alone and as part of the six drug cocktail, respectively. The corresponding values for 1-OH MDZ were 789.6 (697.6, 893.6) and 791.4 (701.7, 892.6) microg l(-1) h. The ratio of adjusted geometric mean AUClast ratios for the two treatments was 1.82 (90% CI 1.48, 2.23, P < 0.001). The pooled plasma 1-OH MDZ/MDZ ratio data from both studies showed that the differences in MDZ metabolism observed in study 1 were replicated in study 2. The adjusted geometric mean 1-OH MDZ/MDZ ratios when MDZ was given alone and as part of the six drug cocktail were 7.79 and 4.59, respectively, for study 1 (ratio 1.70, 95% CI 1.36, 2.11, P < 0.001) and 7.64 and 4.60 for study 2 (ratio 1.66, 95% CI 1.34, 2.06, P < 0.001). These data indicate that when given orally chlorzoxazone interacts with MDZ, increasing plasma MDZ concentrations. In contrast, there was no difference between the plasma 1-OH MDZ/MDZ ratios when MDZ was given alone and as part of the five drug cocktail indicating that there were no interactions between MDZ and any of the other components of that cocktail.

Conclusions: Chlorzoxazone appears to significantly influence the pharmacokinetics of oral MDZ, probably through inhibition of first pass metabolism by CYP3A in the GI tract. Data from these studies and literature evidence showing a further interaction between chlorzoxazone and CYP1A2 substrates and questions concerning the specificity of chlorzoxazone as a probe substrate for CYP2E1, indicate that the use of chlorzoxazone in multisubstrate probe cocktails should be avoided.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases*
  • Caffeine / pharmacokinetics
  • Chlorzoxazone / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2E1 / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Debrisoquin / pharmacokinetics
  • Diclofenac / pharmacokinetics
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mephenytoin / pharmacokinetics
  • Midazolam / blood
  • Midazolam / pharmacokinetics*
  • Muscle Relaxants, Central / pharmacokinetics*
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism*


  • Muscle Relaxants, Central
  • Diclofenac
  • Caffeine
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2E1
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating
  • Chlorzoxazone
  • Mephenytoin
  • Midazolam
  • Debrisoquin