Cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2D metabolism is required for the liver-stage antimalarial efficacy of the 8-aminoquinoline molecule tafenoquine in mice. This could be problematic for Plasmodium vivax radical cure, as the human CYP 2D ortholog (2D6) is highly polymorphic. Diminished CYP 2D6 enzyme activity, as in the poor-metabolizer phenotype, could compromise radical curative efficacy in humans. Despite the importance of CYP 2D metabolism for tafenoquine liver-stage efficacy, the exact role that CYP 2D metabolism plays in the metabolism and pharmacokinetics of tafenoquine and other 8-aminoquinoline molecules has not been extensively studied. In this study, a series of tafenoquine pharmacokinetic experiments were conducted in mice with different CYP 2D metabolism statuses, including wild-type (WT) (reflecting extensive metabolizers for CYP 2D6 substrates) and CYPmouse 2D knockout (KO) (reflecting poor metabolizers for CYP 2D6 substrates) mice. Plasma and liver pharmacokinetic profiles from a single 20-mg/kg of body weight dose of tafenoquine differed between the strains; however, the differences were less striking than previous results obtained for primaquine in the same model. Additionally, the presence of a 5,6-ortho-quinone tafenoquine metabolite was examined in both mouse strains. The 5,6-ortho-quinone species of tafenoquine was observed, and concentrations of the metabolite were highest in the WT extensive-metabolizer phenotype. Altogether, this study indicates that CYP 2D metabolism in mice affects tafenoquine pharmacokinetics and could have implications for human tafenoquine pharmacokinetics in polymorphic CYP 2D6 human populations.
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