Cytochrome P450 mRNA expression in peripheral blood lymphocytes as a predictor of enzyme induction

Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2005 Sep;61(8):583-93. doi: 10.1007/s00228-005-0971-0. Epub 2005 Jul 22.


Objective: Previous reports have supported the concept that messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) concentrations for cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells may be predictive of systemic enzyme activity. We investigated whether changes in mRNA expression for CYP1A2,CYP2C19, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 in peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) may serve as surrogate markers for changes in CYP enzyme activity following the administration of rifampin.

Methods: On day 1 and day 9 of the study, 12 healthy volunteers were administered caffeine 100 mg, debrisoquine 10 mg and omeprazole 40 mg orally, along with midazolam 0.025 mg/kg intravenously. Blood samples and urine were collected for 8 h after drug administration. The subjects took rifampin 300 mg (n = 6) or 600 mg (n = 6) daily on days 2-8. Total RNA was isolated from PBLs on day 1 and day 9, and mRNA expression for the CYP enzymes and hGAPDH were determined by means of quantitative, real-time, reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction. CYP1A2 activity was estimated by calculating the plasma paraxanthine to caffeine AUC ratio (caffeine metabolic ratio; CMR), CYP2C19 activity by the 2-h omeprazole hydroxylation index (HI), CYP2D6 activity by the urinary debrisoquine recovery ratio (DBRR) and CYP3A4 activity by midazolam clearance.

Results: Median midazolam clearance (0.362 to 0.740 l/kg/h), omeprazole HI (0.752 to 0.214), CMR (0.365 to 0.450) and DBRR (0.406 to 0.479) all changed significantly following rifampin, consistent with the expected enzyme induction. CYP1A2,CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 mRNA content were measurable in all samples. CYP2C19 mRNA was inconsistently detectable. There were no significant correlations between changes in enzyme activity and mRNA expression by Spearman's rank order correlation.

Conclusion: The results do not support the use of mRNA expression assays for CYP1A2, CYP2C19, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 enzymes in PBLs as surrogates for quantifying changes in systemic enzyme activity in the setting of enzyme induction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caffeine / pharmacokinetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Debrisoquin / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Midazolam / pharmacokinetics
  • Omeprazole / pharmacokinetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rifampin / pharmacology*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Caffeine
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Omeprazole
  • Midazolam
  • Rifampin
  • Debrisoquin