Cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6) belongs to the minor drug metabolizing P450s in human liver. Expression is highly variable both between individuals and within individuals, owing to non-genetic factors, genetic polymorphisms, inducibility, and irreversible inhibition by many compounds. Drugs metabolized mainly by CYP2B6 include artemisinin, bupropion, cyclophosphamide, efavirenz, ketamine, and methadone. CYP2B6 is one of the most polymorphic CYP genes in humans and variants have been shown to affect transcriptional regulation, splicing, mRNA and protein expression, and catalytic activity. Some variants appear to affect several functional levels simultaneously, thus, combined in haplotypes, leading to complex interactions between substrate-dependent and -independent mechanisms. The most common functionally deficient allele is CYP2B6*6 [Q172H, K262R], which occurs at frequencies of 15 to over 60% in different populations. The allele leads to lower expression in liver due to erroneous splicing. Recent investigations suggest that the amino acid changes contribute complex substrate-dependent effects at the activity level, although data from recombinant systems used by different researchers are not well in agreement with each other. Another important variant, CYP2B6*18 [I328T], occurs predominantly in Africans (4-12%) and does not express functional protein. A large number of uncharacterized variants are currently emerging from different ethnicities in the course of the 1000 Genomes Project. The CYP2B6 polymorphism is clinically relevant for HIV-infected patients treated with the reverse transcriptase inhibitor efavirenz, but it is increasingly being recognized for other drug substrates. This review summarizes recent advances on the functional and clinical significance of CYP2B6 and its genetic polymorphism, with particular emphasis on the comparison of kinetic data obtained with different substrates for variants expressed in different recombinant expression systems.
Keywords: bupropion; cyclophosphamide; cytochrome P450; drug metabolism; drug–drug interaction; efavirenz; pharmacogenetics; pharmacogenomics.