Accumulation of caffeine in healthy volunteers treated with furafylline

Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1987 Jan;23(1):9-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.1987.tb03003.x.


The pharmacokinetics and tolerance of repeated oral doses of furafylline were investigated in normal volunteers. In accord with predictions from single dose studies, steady state was achieved on the first day following the administration of 90 mg and maintained by subsequent daily doses of 30 mg. When corrected for body weight there were no significant differences in minimum and maximum plateau levels of furafylline between males (1.2-2.0 micrograms ml-1; mean body weight 67.2 kg) and females (1.6-2.6 micrograms ml-1; mean body weight 54.9 kg). The half-life of elimination was less when the plasma concentration was lower than 600 ng ml-1 than during the stationary phase of treatment. Despite constant plasma levels the repeated administration of furafylline appeared to be associated with the onset of adverse xanthine-like side effects, a finding which was subsequently traced to the presence of, and possible synergism with, accumulating serum levels of caffeine in those volunteers drinking caffeine containing beverages. Subsequent studies showed that a single dose (90 mg) of furafylline results in a rapid accumulation of caffeine given orally (100 mg twice daily) and that this is accompanied by an elimination half-life of some 50 h and an abrupt decrease in metabolite levels. The furafylline-induced accumulation of caffeine was not influenced by the smoking habits of the subjects, implying that the metabolite pathway blocked by furafylline is the demethylation of caffeine in position 3, an implication confirmed by the reduced formation of paraxanthine. This demonstration of an unacceptable level of adverse side effects resulting from a potent inhibiting effect of furafylline on the metabolism of a normal dietary constituent has obvious implications in the interpretation of drug-induced toxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Caffeine / metabolism*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Drug Tolerance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Theophylline / adverse effects
  • Theophylline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Theophylline / pharmacology


  • Caffeine
  • Theophylline
  • furafylline