Cytochrome P450 2C8 and CYP3A4/5 are involved in chloroquine metabolism in human liver microsomes

Arch Pharm Res. 2003 Aug;26(8):631-7. doi: 10.1007/BF02976712.


Chloroquine has been used for many decades in the prophylaxis and treatment of malaria. It is metabolized in humans through the N-dealkylation pathway, to desethylchloroquine (DCQ) and bisdesethylchloroquine (BDCQ), by cytochrome P450 (CYP). However, until recently, no data are available on the metabolic pathway of chloroquine. Therefore, the metabolic pathway of chloroquine was evaluated using human liver microsomes and cDNA-expressed CYPs. Chloroquine is mainly metabolized to DCQ, and its Eadie-Hofstee plots were biphasic, indicating the involvement of multiple enzymes, with apparent Km and Vmax values of 0.21 mM and 1.02 nmol/min/mg protein 3.43 mM and 10.47 nmol/min/mg protein for high and low affinity components, respectively. Of the cDNA-expressing CYPs examined, CYP1A2, 2C8, 2C19, 2D6 and 3A4/5 exhibited significant DCQ formation. A study using chemical inhibitors showed only quercetin (a CYP2C8 inhibitor) and ketoconazole (a CYP3A4/5 inhibitor) inhibited the DCQ formation. In addition, the DCQ formation significantly correlated with the CYP3A4/5-catalyzed midazolam 1-hydroxylation (r = 0.868) and CYP2C8-catalyzed paclitaxel 6alpha-hydroxylation (r = 0.900). In conclusion, the results of the present study demonstrated that CYP2C8 and CYP3A4/5 are the major enzymes responsible for the chloroquine N-deethylation to DCQ in human liver microsomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / biosynthesis*
  • Biotransformation
  • Chloroquine / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C8
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis*
  • DNA, Complementary / analysis
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism*


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Chloroquine
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP2C8 protein, human
  • CYP3A protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C8
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human