Impact of CYP2D6 Genetic Variation on the Response of the Cardiovascular Patient to Carvedilol and Metoprolol

Curr Drug Metab. 2015;17(1):30-6. doi: 10.2174/1389200217666151105125425.


Carvedilol and metoprolol are two of the most commonly prescribed β-blockers in cardiovascular medicine and primarily used in the treatment of hypertension and heart failure. Cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6) is the predominant metabolizing enzyme of these two drugs. Since the first description of a CYP2D6 sparteinedebrisoquine polymorphism in the mid-seventies, substantial genetic heterogeneity has been reported in the human CYP2D6 gene, with ~100 different polymorphisms identified to date. Some of these polymorphisms render the enzyme completely inactive while others do not modify its activity. Based on all the identified variants, four metabolizer phenotypes are nowadays used to characterize drug metabolism via CYP2D6 in humans: ultra-rapid metabolizer (UM); extensive metabolizer (EM); intermediate metabolizer (IM); and poor metabolizer (PM) phenotypes. As a consequence of these CYP2D6 metabolizer phenotypes, pharmacokinetics and bioavailability of carvedilol and metoprolol can range from therapeutically ineffective levels (in the UM patients) to excessive (overdose) and potentially toxic concentrations (in PM patients). This, in turn, can result in elevated risks for either treatment failure (in terms of blood pressure reduction of hypertensive patients and of improving survival and cardiovascular function of heart failure patients) or for adverse effects (e.g. hypotension and bradycardia). The present review will discuss the impact of these CYP2D6 genetic polymorphisms on the therapeutic responses of cardiovascular patients treated with either of these two β-blockers. In addition, the potential advantages and disadvantages of implementing CYP2D6 genetic testing in the clinic to guide/personalize therapy with these two drugs will be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Carbazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics*
  • Carvedilol
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Metoprolol / therapeutic use*
  • Pharmacogenetics / methods
  • Propanolamines / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenergic alpha-Antagonists
  • Carbazoles
  • Propanolamines
  • Carvedilol
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6
  • Metoprolol