Factors affecting the clinical development of cytochrome p450 3A substrates

Clin Pharmacokinet. 2003;42(11):969-84. doi: 10.2165/00003088-200342110-00003.


The objective of this review is to evaluate the risks associated with the discovery and development of cytochrome p450 (CYP) 3A substrates. CYP3A is the most abundant p450 enzyme in human liver and is highly expressed in the intestinal tract. The enzyme contributes substantially to metabolism of approximately 50% of currently marketed drugs that undergo oxidative metabolism. As a result, drug-drug interactions involving inhibitors of CYP3A-mediated metabolism can be of great clinical consequence. It is the position of the authors that, because of the factors responsible for the broad substrate specificity of CYP3A, discovery and development of compounds across a large and broad portfolio that are completely devoid of CYP3A metabolism is not feasible. Thus, it is important that scientifically valid approaches to the discovery and development of compounds metabolised by CYP3A be realised. The clinical relevance of CYP3A metabolism is dependent on a multitude of factors that include the degree of intestinal and hepatic CYP3A-mediated first-pass extraction, the therapeutic index of the compound and the adverse event associated with inhibition of CYP3A metabolism. Thus, a better understanding of the disposition of a CYP3A-metabolised compound relative to the projected or observed therapeutic index (or safety margin) can provide ample evidence to support the continued development of a CYP3A substrate. This document will highlight current practices as well as the benefits and risks associated with those practices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / metabolism*
  • Biotransformation / drug effects
  • Biotransformation / physiology
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Chemistry, Physical
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Substrate Specificity / drug effects
  • Substrate Specificity / physiology*


  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating