Methadone enantiomer plasma levels, CYP2B6, CYP2C19, and CYP2C9 genotypes, and response to treatment

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Dec;78(6):593-604. doi: 10.1016/j.clpt.2005.08.011.


Background and objective: Recent in vitro studies have suggested an important role of cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2B6 and CYP2C19 in methadone metabolism. We aimed to determine the influence of CYP2B6, CYP2C9, and CYP2C19 genetic polymorphism on methadone pharmacokinetics and on the response to treatment.

Methods: We included 209 patients in methadone maintenance treatment on the basis of their response to treatment and their daily methadone dose. Patients were genotyped for CYP2B6, CYP2C9, and CYP2C19. Steady-state trough and peak (R)-, (S)-, and (R,S)-plasma levels and peak-to-trough plasma level ratios were measured.

Results: CYP2B6 genotype influences (S)-methadone and, to a lesser extent, (R)-methadone plasma levels, with the median trough (S)-methadone plasma levels being 105, 122, and 209 ng . kg/mL . mg for the noncarriers of allele *6, heterozygous carriers, and homozygous carriers (*6/*6), respectively (P = .0004). CYP2C9 and CYP2C19 genotypes do not influence methadone plasma levels. Lower peak and trough plasma levels of methadone and higher peak-to-trough ratios were measured in patients considered as nonresponders [median (R,S)-methadone trough plasma levels of 183 and 249 ng . kg/mL . mg (P = .0004) and median peak-to-trough ratios of 1.82 and 1.58 for high-dose nonresponders and high-dose responders, respectively (P = .0003)].

Conclusion: Although CYP2B6 influences (S)-methadone plasma levels, given that only (R)-methadone contributes to the opioid effect of this drug, a major influence of CYP2B6 genotype on response to treatment is unlikely and has not been shown in this study. Lower plasma levels of methadone in nonresponders, suggesting a higher clearance, and higher peak-to-trough ratios, suggesting a shorter elimination half-life, are in agreement with the usual clinical measures taken for such patients, which are to increase methadone dosages and to split the daily dose into several intakes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Analgesics, Opioid / blood
  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacokinetics
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2B6
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methadone / blood*
  • Methadone / chemistry
  • Methadone / pharmacokinetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / genetics
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • CYP2C9 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP2B6 protein, human
  • CYP2C19 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2B6
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating
  • Methadone