Developmental expression of drug metabolizing enzymes: impact on disposition in neonates and young children

Int J Pharm. 2013 Aug 16;452(1-2):3-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2012.05.079. Epub 2012 Jul 3.


Profound changes in drug metabolizing enzyme expression occurs during development that impacts drug efficacy and the risk of adverse events in the neonate and young child. A review of our current knowledge suggests individual hepatic drug metabolizing enzymes can be categorized into one of three classes based on developmental trajectories. The time frame for the perinatal changes observed for both Class 1 and Class 3 enzymes varies considerably between different enzymes. However, for a given enzyme, significant interindividual variation is observed in the timing of the perinatal changes, creating windows of hypervariability. Genetic variation clearly impacts drug disposition in children. However, developmental factors can dominate pharmacogenetic factors. Thus, a major challenge in applying pharmacogenomics to improve pediatric drug safety is determining at what age functional genetic variants identified in adults become a major determinant of expression in children. Developmental and genetic data on drug metabolizing enzyme ontogeny, as well as age-dependent changes in other physiological factors impacting drug disposition, can be integrated into physiologically-based pharmacokinetic models. Such models have proven useful in predicting the range of expected metabolic capacities at a given age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations