Genetic polymorphism and toxicology--with emphasis on cytochrome p450

Toxicol Sci. 2011 Mar;120(1):1-13. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfq374. Epub 2010 Dec 13.


Individual susceptibility to environmental, chemical, and drug toxicity is to some extent determined by polymorphism in drug-metabolizing enzymes, in particular the cytochromes P450 (CYPs). This polymorphism is in particular translated into risk differences concerning drugs metabolized by the highly polymorphic enzymes CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2D6, whereas CYP enzymes active in procarcinogen activation are relatively well conserved without important functional polymorphisms. Examples of drug toxicities that can be predicted by P450 polymorphism include those exerted by codeine, tramadol, warfarin, acenocoumarol, and clopidogrel. The polymorphic CYP2A6 has a role in nicotine metabolism and smoking behavior. Besides this genetic variation, genome-wide association studies now allow for the identification of an increasing number of predictive genetic biomarkers among, e.g., human leukocyte antigens and to some extent drug transporters that provide useful information regarding the choice of the drug and drug dosage in order to avoid toxicity. The translation of this information into the clinical practice has been slow; however, an increasing number of pharmacogenomic drug labels are assigned, where the predictive genotyping before drug treatment can be mandatory, recommended, or only for informational purposes. In this review, we provide an update of the field with emphasis on CYP polymorphism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / enzymology
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Pharmacogenetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Toxicology*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System