Rofecoxib is a potent inhibitor of cytochrome P450 1A2: studies with tizanidine and caffeine in healthy subjects

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2006 Sep;62(3):345-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2006.02653.x.


Aims: Case reports suggest an interaction between rofecoxib and the CYP1A2 substrate tizanidine. Our objectives were to explore the extent and mechanism of this possible interaction and to determine the CYP1A2 inhibitory potency of rofecoxib.

Methods: In a randomized, double-blind, two-phase cross-over study, nine healthy subjects took 25 mg rofecoxib or placebo daily for 4 days and, on day 4, each ingested 4 mg tizanidine. Plasma concentrations and the urinary excretion of tizanidine, its metabolites (M) and rofecoxib, and pharmacodynamic variables were measured up to 24 h. On day 3, a caffeine test was performed to estimate CYP1A2 activity.

Results: Rofecoxib increased the area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC(0-infinity)) of tizanidine by 13.6-fold [95% confidence interval (CI) 8.0, 15.6; P < 0.001), peak plasma concentration (C(max)) by 6.1-fold (4.8, 7.3; P < 0.001) and elimination half-life (t(1/2)) from 1.6 to 3.0 h (P < 0.001). Consequently, rofecoxib markedly increased the blood pressure-lowering and sedative effects of tizanidine (P < 0.05). Rofecoxib increased several fold the tizanidine/M-3 and tizanidine/M-4 ratios in plasma and urine and the tizanidine/M-5, tizanidine/M-9 and tizanidine/M-10 ratios in urine (P < 0.05). In addition, it increased the plasma caffeine/paraxanthine ratio by 2.4-fold (95% CI 1.4, 3.4; P = 0.008) and this ratio correlated with the tizanidine/metabolite ratios. Finally, the AUC(0-25) of rofecoxib correlated with the placebo phase caffeine/paraxanthine ratio (r = 0.80, P = 0.01).

Conclusions: Rofecoxib is a potent inhibitor of CYP1A2 and it greatly increases the plasma concentrations and adverse effects of tizanidine. The findings suggest that rofecoxib itself is also metabolized by CYP1A2, raising concerns about interactions between rofecoxib and other CYP1A2 substrate and inhibitor drugs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caffeine / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / pharmacology
  • Clonidine / analogs & derivatives
  • Clonidine / pharmacology
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 Inhibitors*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Lactones / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Sulfones / pharmacology*


  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 Inhibitors
  • Lactones
  • Sulfones
  • rofecoxib
  • Caffeine
  • tizanidine
  • Clonidine