1. Studies using human liver microsomes and recombinant human cytochrome P450 (CYP) and flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO) were performed to identify the enzymes responsible for the metabolism of S-methyl-esonarimod (M2), an active metabolite of esonarimod (KE-298, a novel antirheumatic drug). 2. S-oxidative activities of M2 significantly correlated with those of methyl p-tolyl sulfide, a specific substrate of FMOs, as tested using 10 different human liver microsomes (r(2) = 0.539, p<0.05). Thermal treatment of microsomes reduced the S-oxidative activity in the absence of the NADPH-generating system at 45 degrees C for 5 min. However, methimazole, a known competitive substrate of FMOs, was a weak inhibitor of the S-oxidation in liver microsomes. 3. Recombinant human FMO1 and FMO5 produced M3 in greater quantities than recombinant human FMO3. The S-oxidation of M2 by recombinant human FMO5 was not appreciably inhibited in the presence of methimazole. In contrast, methimazole was effective in suppressing the catalytic activity of recombinant human FMO1 and FMO3. 4. The apparent K(m) (K(m app)) for the S-oxidation of M2 in human recombinant FMO5 (2.71 microM) was similar to that obtained using human liver microsomes (2.43 microM). 5. The present results suggest that the S-oxidation of S-methyl esonarimod reflects FMO5 activity in the human liver because the recombinant FMO5 data match well with the human liver microsomal experiments.