Mexiletine, an anti-arrhythmic agent, is used for the control of ventricular arrhythmias and for neuropathic pain from cancer or diabetes mellitus. It is sometimes used together with psychotropic drugs in patients with depression, schizophrenia or sleep disorder. It is metabolized mainly by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2 D 6 and, to a minor extent, by CYP1A2. To predict possible drug interactions between mexiletine and psychotropic drugs, the inhibitory effects of 14 psychotropic drugs (phenytoin, carbamazepine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, fluoxetine, citalopram, sertraline, imipramine, desipramine, haloperidol, thioridazine, olanzapine, etizolam, and quazepam) on mexiletine metabolism in human liver microsomes were determined. Fluoxetine (Ki=0.6+/- 0.1 microM), sertraline (Ki=7.6+/- 0.8 microM) and desipramine (Ki=3.2+/- 0.5 microM) competitively inhibited the mexiletine p-hydroxylation in human liver microsomes. Thioridazine (Kis=0.5+/- 0.2 microM; Kii =3.6+/-1.6 microM) and paroxetine (Kis=1.7+/- 0.7 microM; Kii=3.6+/- 0.9 microM) exhibited a mixed-type inhibition (competitive and non-competitive) toward mexiletine p-hydroxylation in human liver microsomes. The changes of the in vivo clearance of mexiletine by the psychotropic drugs were predicted by 1+(I/Ki) using the in vitro Ki and unbound inhibitor concentrations in liver. The values were calculated as 2.4 for paroxetine, 5.5 for fluoxetine, 1.1 for sertraline, 2.8 for desipramine and 2.2 for thioridazine. In addition, paroxetine exhibited a mechanism-based inactivation with Ki=0.7 microM and Kinact=0.15 min(-1). The present study predicted the possibility of drug interactions between mexiletine and paroxetine, fluoxetine, desipramine, and thioridazine in clinical use.