Impact of rat P450 genetic polymorphism on diazepam metabolism

Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2009 Nov;5(11):1421-33. doi: 10.1517/17425250903207002.


Rats are an important tool in pharmacology and toxicology. The authors focus on rat P450s in relation to diazepam metabolism. In particular, considerable attention is devoted to the CYP2D subfamily, which is a group of highly polymorphic enzymes. First, the metabolic profiles of diazepam of humans and other animals are compared. In this review, the authors describe a novel genetic polymorphism of diazepam observed in commonly used rat strains and compare it to human genetic polymorphisms. The genetic basis underlying diazepam polymorphism in rats is also discussed. The authors conclude that the metabolic capacities and major metabolic pathways of diazepam are quite different among rat strains and in the Wistar strain due to CYP2D3 genetic polymorphism, which is independent of the debrisoquine polymorphism catalyzed by CYP2D2. The situation, in which major metabolites differ depending on animal strain, will be highly problematic not only in pharmacokinetic studies of test compounds, but also in pharmacological or toxicological tests. This may provide researchers who use experimental animals insights into important aspects of the genetic background of experimental animals. Thus, great caution must be taken in the choice of rat strains for studies of drug metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Diazepam / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacokinetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity


  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Diazepam