Polymorphic ability to metabolize propranolol alters 4-hydroxypropranolol levels but not beta blockade

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1984 Jul;36(1):51-6. doi: 10.1038/clpt.1984.138.


The ability to hydroxylate debrisoquine is known to be polymorphically distributed, with about 8% to 9% of the North American Caucasian population being poor metabolizers. We have shown that the ability to 4-hydroxylate propranolol is also polymorphically determined and that it cosegregates with ability to metabolize debrisoquine, such that poor debrisoquine metabolizers produce much less 4-hydroxypropranolol (4-OH propranolol) than do extensive metabolizers. There was no significant difference, however, between plasma propranolol concentrations after either single or multiple doses in the two groups. Despite the substantial difference in production of the pharmacologically active 4-OH metabolite, no difference was seen in the extent of beta-blockade induced in the extensive and poor metabolizers, which implies that 4-OH propranolol does not contribute substantially to beta-blockade.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Debrisoquin / metabolism
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Male
  • Phenotype
  • Physical Exertion
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Propranolol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Propranolol / metabolism*


  • 4-hydroxypropranolol
  • Propranolol
  • Debrisoquin