Diclofenac metabolism in the mouse: novel in vivo metabolites identified by high performance liquid chromatography coupled to linear ion trap mass spectrometry

Xenobiotica. 2012 Feb;42(2):179-94. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2011.607865. Epub 2011 Sep 28.


The metabolism of [(14)C]-diclofenac in mice was investigated following a single oral dose of 10 mg/kg. The majority of the drug-related material was excreted in the urine within 24 h of administration (49.7 %). Liquid chromatographic analyses of urine and faecal extracts revealed extensive metabolism to at least 37 components, with little unchanged diclofenac excreted. Metabolites were identified using a hybrid linear ion-trap mass spectrometer via exact mass determinations of molecular ions and subsequent multi-stage fragmentation. The major routes of metabolism identified included: 1) conjugation with taurine; and 2) hydroxylation (probably at the 4'-and 5-arene positions) followed by conjugation to taurine, glucuronic acid or glucose. Ether, rather than acyl glucuronidation, predominated. There was no evidence for p-benzoquinone-imine formation (i.e. no glutathione or mercapturic acid conjugates were detected). A myriad of novel minor drug-related metabolites were also detected, including ribose, glucose, sulfate and glucuronide ether-linked conjugates of hydroxylated diclofenac derivatives. Combinations of these hydroxylated derivatives with acyl conjugates (glucose, glucuronide and taurine) or N-linked sulfation or glucosidation were also observed. Acyl- or amide-linked-conjugates of benzoic acid metabolites and several indolinone derivatives with further hydroxylated and conjugated moieties were also evident. The mechanisms involved in the generation of benzoic acid and indolinone products indicate the formation reactive intermediates in vivo that may possibly contribute to hepatotoxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Decarboxylation
  • Diclofenac / chemistry
  • Diclofenac / pharmacokinetics*
  • Diclofenac / urine
  • Glucose / chemistry
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glucuronic Acid / chemistry
  • Glucuronic Acid / metabolism
  • Hydroxylation
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Taurine / chemistry
  • Taurine / metabolism


  • Diclofenac
  • Taurine
  • Glucuronic Acid
  • Glucose