Inhibition of desmethylimipramine 2-hydroxylation by drugs in human liver microsomes

Biochem Pharmacol. 1985 Jul 15;34(14):2501-5. doi: 10.1016/0006-2952(85)90533-7.


The 2-hydroxylation of desmethylimipramine (DMI) correlates strongly with the 4-hydroxylation of debrisoquine (D) both in human volunteers and in vitro comparing human liver microsomes from different individuals. D competitively inhibits the 2-hydroxylation of DMI in vitro suggesting that DMI is hydroxylated by the 'debrisoquine hydroxylase' which is under monogenic control in man. We have characterized the effect of drugs on the hydroxylation of DMI in human liver microsomes by measuring the formation of 2-OH-DMI with HPLC using fluorescence detection. Amitriptyline, nortriptyline and metoprolol inhibited the hydroxylation of DMI competitively indicating interaction with the catalytical site for DMI 2-hydroxylation. Antipyrine and amylobarbitone at concentrations similar to their Km-values for metabolism did not inhibit DMI-hydroxylation. Thus, for these compounds there was a good correspondence between the drugs' capacity to inhibit DMI 2-hydroxylation competitively in vitro and their apparent metabolism by the 'debrisoquine hydroxylase' in vivo in man. Thioridazine, chlorpromazine, quinidine and quinine also inhibited DMI-hydroxylation competitively. Thioridazine was an unusually potent inhibitor (apparent inhibition constant Ki = 0.75 microM). Quinidine was also an unusually potent inhibitor (Ki = 0.27 microM) and much more efficient than its isomer quinine (Ki = 12 microM). Theophylline could inhibit DMI hydroxylation but with atypical kinetics. We suggest that this simple DMI in vitro test as well as earlier described inhibition tests with debrisoquine, sparteine and bufuralol can be used to screen if drugs interact with the 'debrisoquine hydroxylase' in human liver.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline / pharmacology
  • Antipyrine / metabolism
  • Antipyrine / pharmacology
  • Desipramine / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Metoprolol / pharmacology
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism*
  • Theophylline / pharmacology


  • Amitriptyline
  • Theophylline
  • Metoprolol
  • Antipyrine
  • Desipramine