Diabetes mellitus increases the in vivo activity of cytochrome P450 2E1 in humans

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2003 Jan;55(1):77-85. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.01731.x.


Aims: Cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) is thought to activate a number of protoxins, and has been implicated in the development of liver disease. Increased hepatic expression of CYP2E1 occurs in rat models of diabetes but it is unclear whether human diabetics display a similar up-regulation. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that human diabetics experience enhanced CYP2E1 expression.

Methods: The pharmacokinetics of a single dose of chlorzoxazone (500 mg), used as an index of hepatic CYP2E1 activity, was determined in healthy subjects (n = 10), volunteers with Type I (n = 13), and Type II (n = 8) diabetes mellitus. Chlorzoxazone and 6-hydroxychlorzoxazone in serum and urine were analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography. The expression of CYP2E1 mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was quantified by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction.

Results: The mean +/- s.d. (90% confidence interval of the difference) chlorzoxazone area under the plasma concentration-time curve was significantly (P </= 0.05) reduced in obese Type II diabetics (15.7 +/- 11.3 micro g h ml-1; 9, 22) compared with healthy subjects (43.5 +/- 16.9 micro g h ml-1; 16, 40) and Type I diabetics (32.8 +/- 9.2 micro g h ml-1; 9, 25). There was a significant two-fold increase in the oral clearance of chlorzoxazone in obese Type II diabetics compared with healthy volunteers and Type I diabetics. The protein binding of chlorzoxazone was not significantly different between the three groups. In contrast, Type 1 diabetics and healthy volunteers demonstrated no difference in the oral clearance of chlorzoxazone. The urinary recovery of 6-hydroxychlorzoxazone as a percentage of the administered dose was not different between healthy, Type I and obese Type II diabetics. The elimination half-life of chlorzoxazone did not differ between the three groups. CYP2E1 mRNA was significantly elevated in Type I and obese Type II diabetics compared with healthy volunteers. The oral clearance of chlorzoxazone, elimination half-life, Tmax, and Cmax were not significantly influenced by weight, body mass index, serum glucose, serum cholesterol, or glycosylated haemoglobin.

Conclusions: There was a marked increase in hepatic CYP2E1 activity in obese Type II diabetics as assessed by chlorzoxazone disposition. Increased expression of CYP2E1 mRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells was found in both types of diabetes mellitus. Adverse hepatic events associated with Type II diabetes may be in part a result of enhanced CYP2E1 expression and activity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chlorzoxazone / blood
  • Chlorzoxazone / urine
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2E1 / metabolism*
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA / metabolism


  • DNA, Complementary
  • RNA
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2E1
  • Chlorzoxazone