The in vitro metabolism of bupropion revisited: concentration dependent involvement of cytochrome P450 2C19

Xenobiotica. 2010 Aug;40(8):536-46. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2010.492880.


The involvement of cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6) to the in vitro and in vivo metabolism of bupropion has been well studied. In these investigations we performed a detailed in vitro phenotyping study to characterize isoforms other than CYP2B6. A total of nine metabolites were identified (M1-M9) in the incubations with cDNA-expressed P450s (rhCYP) and human liver microsomes (HLM). Incubations in rhCYP identified CYP2B6 as the isoform responsible for the formation of hydroxybupropion (M3). CYP2C19 was involved in bupropion metabolism primarily through alternate hydroxylation pathways (M4-M6) with higher activity at lower substrate concentrations, near 1 microM. The results from HLM inhibition studies using CYP2B6 and CYP2C19 inhibitory antibodies indicated that CYP2B6 contributed to approximately 90% of M3 formation, and CYP2C19 contributed to approximately 70-90% of M4, M5, and M6 formation. Studies using single donor HLM with varying degrees of CYP2B6 and CYP2C19 activities showed a good relationship between M3 formation and CYP2B6 activity and M4/M5 formation and CYP2C19 activity. These results confirmed the principle role of CYP2B6 in hydroxybupropion formation, as a selective CYP2B6 probe. In addition, the new findings revealed that CYP2C19 also contributes to bupropion metabolism through alternate hydroxylation pathways.

MeSH terms

  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / metabolism*
  • Bupropion / analogs & derivatives
  • Bupropion / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Bupropion
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP2C19 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19
  • radafaxine