Unique CYP2D6 activity distribution and genotype-phenotype discordance in black Americans

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2002 Jul;72(1):76-89. doi: 10.1067/mcp.2002.125783.


Background: Although CYP2D6 has been studied extensively in different population groups, relatively little is known for black Americans.

Methods: CYP2D6 activity was assessed with dextromethorphan in 283 black American subjects and correlated with their genotype (2D6*2 to *12, 2D6*14, 2D6*15, 2D6*17, 2D6*18, and 2D6*29 and gene duplications). Volunteers provided information about ethnicity and concurrent medication, and they participated in either phenotyping (n = 225), genotyping (n = 251), or both (n = 193).

Results: The median urinary dextromethorphan/dextrorphan metabolic ratio (MR) indicated significantly lower CYP2D6 activity in the black American group (0.016) than in a white control population (0.0044; P =.0001) studied previously. The reduced function allele 2D6*17 was more common (frequency [f] = 0.395) among intermediate metabolizers (0.03 < or = MR < or= 0.3) than extensive metabolizers (MR < or = 0.03; f = 0.148; P =.0001). Consistent with reduced function toward dextromethorphan of COS cell-expressed 2D6.29 protein, 2D6*29 also was more frequent in intermediate metabolizers (f = 0.114) than in extensive metabolizers (f = 0.057; P = NS). Frequencies for 2D6*17 and 2D6*29 were f = 0.213 and 0.072, respectively. Of the 193 genotyped and phenotyped subjects, 14 were determined to be poor metabolizers, with dextromethorphan/dextrorphan ratios >0.3 (7.25%), but only 2 subjects (1.04%) carried 2 nonfunctional alleles (2D6*3/*4x2 and 2D6*4/*4). A new allelic variant, 2D6*40, was subsequently found in 2 discordant subjects (2D6*4/*40 and 2D6*6/*40), implying that the 18-base pair (bp) insertion found in 2D6*40 renders it nonfunctional. The frequency of 2D6*40 was 0.006. For genotypes that contain 2D6*2, median MR values were consistently higher in black Americans than in white subjects, indicating that other unidentified factors also contribute to lower CYP2D6 activity in black Americans.

Conclusions: The lower CYP2D6 activity observed in a black American population is in part attributable to the presence of variant alleles that occur at a higher frequency in this population than in white subjects. Additional studies are required to ascertain the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic consequences of these pharmacogenetic data in black Americans.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Antitussive Agents
  • Black People / genetics*
  • COS Cells
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / genetics*
  • DNA Primers
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • United States
  • White People


  • Antitussive Agents
  • DNA Primers
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6