Dextromethorphan and caffeine as probes for simultaneous determination of debrisoquin-oxidation and N-acetylation phenotypes in children

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1989 May;45(5):568-73. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1989.74.


The feasibility and reliability of simultaneously determining debrisoquin oxidation and N-acetylation phenotypes was assessed in children with use of two innocuous substrate probes given by mouth, 30 mg dextromethorphan (Pertussin ES) and 25 to 46 mg caffeine (Coca-Cola beverage). Twenty-six children and adolescents (aged 3 to 21 years) were studied three times, once with each substrate given alone and once with the two substrates given together. Urine was collected for 4 hours, and the molar urinary metabolic ratios for dextromethorphan:dextrorphan and for two caffeine metabolites (AFMU:1X) were determined by HPLC ultraviolet assays. The urinary metabolic ratios for both substrates were not significantly different when the substrates were given alone compared with when they were given together. There also was no difference in either the oxidation or acetylation phenotype assignments when the two substrates were given alone and when they were given together. No adverse effects were observed. We conclude that dextromethorphan and caffeine can be given together to simultaneously determine oxidation and acetylation phenotypes and can thereby provide an innocuous, noninvasive method for the assessment of polymorphic drug metabolism in various pediatric populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Adolescent
  • Caffeine* / metabolism
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Debrisoquin / metabolism*
  • Dextromethorphan* / metabolism
  • Dextrorphan / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoquinolines / metabolism*
  • Levorphanol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Phenotype


  • Isoquinolines
  • Dextrorphan
  • Levorphanol
  • Caffeine
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Debrisoquin