A proposed mechanism for the adverse effects of acebutolol: CES2 and CYP2C19-mediated metabolism and antinuclear antibody production

Biochem Pharmacol. 2015 Dec 15;98(4):659-70. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2015.09.016. Epub 2015 Sep 25.


Acebutolol, a β-adrenergic receptor-blocker, occasionally causes drug-induced lupus erythematosus (DILE). Acebutolol is mainly metabolized to diacetolol. Because metabolic activation has been considered to be related to acebutolol-induced toxicity, we sought to identify the enzymes that are responsible for acebutolol metabolism and investigate their involvement in acebutolol-induced toxicity. By using human liver microsomes (HLM) or intestinal microsomes and recombinant enzymes, we found that diacetolol was produced via hydrolysis by carboxylesterase 2 (CES2) and subsequent acetylation by N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2). When acetolol, a hydrolytic metabolite of acebutolol, was incubated with HLM and an NADPH-generating system, a metabolite conjugated with N-acetylcystein was generated. This metabolite was found to be formed by CYP2C19 based on studies with a panel of recombinant cytochrome P450 enzymes and an inhibition study using HLM with tranylcypromine, a CYP2C19 inhibitor. Because antinuclear antibody (ANA) production is associated with DILE, we investigated whether ANA was detected in plasma from mice treated with acebutolol. Administration of acebutolol (100mg/kg, p.o.) to female C57BL/6 mice for 30 days resulted in ANA production in plasma in seven of thirteen mice. The number of mice that showed ANA production was larger in mice co-treated with pregnenolone 16α-carbonitrile, an inducer of P450s, whereas it was lower in mice co-treated with tri-o-tolylphosphate or 1-aminobenzotriazole, which are inhibitors of esterases or P450s, respectively. These results suggested that the hydrolysis and oxidation of acebutolol was associated with ANA production. In summary, this study demonstrated that metabolic activation may be a causal factor of adverse reactions of acebutolol.

Keywords: Acebutolol; Antinuclear antibody; CES2; CYP2C19; Reactive metabolite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acebutolol / adverse effects*
  • Acebutolol / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / metabolism*
  • Carboxylesterase / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19 / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Acebutolol
  • CYP2C19 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19
  • CES2 protein, human
  • Carboxylesterase