Inhibition of cytochrome P450 enzymes and biochemical aspects of mechanism-based inactivation (MBI)

Drug Discov Today Technol. Spring 2013;10(1):e177-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ddtec.2012.09.011.


Mechanism-based inactivation (MBI) often involves metabolic bioactivation of the xenobiotic by cytochrome P450s (CYPs) to an electrophilic reactive intermediate and results in quasi-irreversible or irreversible inactivation. Such reactive intermediate can cause quasi-irreversible inhibition through coordination to the ferrous state, Fe(II), of the P450 enzyme forming a tight noncovalent bond leading to the formation of metabolic-intermediate complex (MIC). By contrast, irreversible inactivation is one of the most common causes for the observed drug–drug interaction (DDI) and usually implies the formation of a covalent bond between the metabolite and the enzyme via alkylation of either the heme or the P450 apoprotein. Here we illustrate the important points of the current literature understanding of the mechanisms of inhibition of CYP enzymes with emphasis on general mechanistic aspects of MBI for some drugs/moieties associated with the phenomenon. Additionally, the utility of computational and in silico approaches to address bioactivation issues will be briefly discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Humans


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System