Background/aims: Since cytochrome P450IA2 is involved in the metabolism of procarcinogens and carcinogens, there is debate about whether induction of this enzyme system by pharmaceuticals leads to a higher risk of malignancy. We investigated rifampin as a potent inducer of the hepatic mixed function oxygenase system and its effect on caffeine metabolism which can be taken as an in vivo marker of cytochrome P450IA2 activity.
Methods: Caffeine clearance was measured in ten healthy volunteers before and after a 7-day treatment with 600 mg rifampin. Urinary 6 beta-hydroxycortisol output was used as endogenous marker of microsomal enzyme function.
Results: 6 beta-hydroxycortisol increased from 7.6 to 26.0 micrograms/24 h per kg after treatment with rifampin, consistent with the induction of mixed function oxidases in the liver. There were significant changes in caffeine plasma half-life (6.2 vs. 3.5 h; p < 0.004) and caffeine plasma clearance (1.3 vs. 2.2 ml/kg per min; p < 0.004) with rifampin.
Conclusions: The hypothesis that induction of cytochrome P450IA2 entails accelerated activation of procarcinogens would predict rifampin to be associated with a higher risk of malignancy. As with other inducers of cytochrome P450IA2, such as phenytoin or omeprazole, no such linkage is known. Therefore the role of pharmaceutical induction of cytochrome P450IA2 in tumor promotion remains unclear.