Stereoselectivity of ibuprofen metabolism and pharmacokinetics following the administration of the racemate to healthy volunteers

Xenobiotica. 2002 Aug;32(8):683-97. doi: 10.1080/00498250210142994.


1. The stereoselective metabolism and pharmacokinetics of the enantiomers of ibuprofen have been investigated following the oral administration of the racemic drug (400 mg) to 12 healthy volunteers.2. The stereochemical composition of the drug in serum, both total and unbound, and drug and metabolites, both free and conjugated, in urine were determined by a combination of the direct and indirect chromatographic procedures to enantiomeric analysis. 3. The oral clearance of (S)-ibuprofen was significantly greater than that of the R-enantiomer (74.5 +/- 18.1 versus 57.1 +/- 11.7 ml min(-1); p < 0.05) and the clearance of (R)-ibuprofen via inversion was ca two fold that via alternative pathways. 4. Some 74.0 +/- 9.6% of the dose was recovered in urine over 24 h as ibuprofen, 2-hydroxyibuprofen and carboxyibuprofen, both free and conjugated with glucuronic acid. Analysis of the stereochemical composition of the urinary excretion products indicated that 68% of the dose of (R)-ibuprofen had undergone chiral inversion. 5. Metabolism via glucuronidation and both routes of oxidation, showed enantio-selectivity for (S)-ibuprofen, the enantiomeric ratios (S/R) in partial metabolic clearance being 7.1, 4.8 and 3.4 for formation of ibuprofen glucuronide, 2-hydroxyibuprofen and carboxyibuprofen respectively.6. Modest stereoselectivity was observed in the formation of (2'R, 2R)- and (2'S, 2S)-carboxyibuprofen in comparison to the alternative diastereoisomers, the ratios in formation clearance being 1.6 and 1.2 respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacokinetics*
  • Chromatography
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Models, Chemical
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Time Factors


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Oxygen
  • Ibuprofen