The mechanisms of interactions of psychotropic drugs with liver and brain cytochrome P450 and their significance for drug effect and drug-drug interactions

Biochem Pharmacol. 2022 May;199:115006. doi: 10.1016/j.bcp.2022.115006. Epub 2022 Mar 18.


Cytochrome P450 (CYP) plays an important role in psychopharmacology. While liver CYP enzymes are responsible for the biotransformation of psychotropic drugs, brain CYP enzymes are involved in the local metabolism of these drugs and endogenous neuroactive substances, such as neurosteroids, and in alternative pathways of neurotransmitter biosynthesis including dopamine and serotonin. Recent studies have revealed a relation between the brain nervous system and cytochrome P450, indicating that CYP enzymes metabolize endogenous neuroactive substances in the brain, while the brain nervous system is engaged in the central neuroendocrine and neuroimmune regulation of cytochrome P450 in the liver. Therefore, the effect of neuroactive drugs on cytochrome P450 should be investigated not only in vitro, but also at in vivo conditions, since only in vivo all mechanisms of drug-enzyme interaction can be observed, including neuroendocrine and neuroimmune modulation. Psychotropic drugs can potentially affect cytochrome P450 via a number of mechanisms operating at the level of the nervous, hormonal and immune systems, and the liver. Their effect on cytochrome P450 in the brain is often different than in the liver and region-dependent. Since psychotropic drugs can affect cytochrome P450 both in the liver and brain, they can modify their own pharmacological effect at both pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic level. The article describes the mechanisms by which psychotropic drugs can change the expression/activity of cytochrome P450 in the liver and brain, and discusses the significance of those mechanisms for drug action and drug-drug interactions. Moreover, the brain CYP2D6 is considered as a potential target for psychotropics.

Keywords: Brain; Cytochrome P450; Liver; Neuroendocrine and neuroimmune regulation; Pharmacological effect; Psychotropics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System* / metabolism
  • Drug Interactions
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism
  • Psychotropic Drugs* / pharmacology


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Psychotropic Drugs
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System