Formation of mammalian metabolites of cyclobenzaprine by the fungus, Cunninghamella elegans

Chem Biol Interact. 1996 Oct 21;102(2):79-92. doi: 10.1016/s0009-2797(96)03736-2.


The fungus, Cunninghamella elegans, was used as a microbial model of mammalian drug metabolism to biotransform a tricyclic antidepressant, cyclobenzaprine. Seventy-five percent of this drug at a concentration of 1 mM was metabolized within 72 h by C. elegans grown on Sabouraud dextrose broth. Milligram amounts of fungal metabolites were isolated by reversed-phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and their structures were characterized by 1H NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, and UV spectroscopy analyses. The major fungal metabolites of cyclobenzaprine were 2-hydroxycyclobenzaprine (59%), N-desmethylcyclobenzaprine (21%), cyclobenzaprine trans-10,11-dihydrodiol (5%), N-desmethyl-2-hydroxy-cyclobenzaprine (3%), 3-hydroxycyclobenzaprine (3%), and cyclobenzaprine N-oxide (1%). These fungal metabolites were used as standards to investigate the metabolism of cyclobenzaprine by rat liver microsomes. Rat liver microsomes also biotransformed cyclobenzaprine to produce similar metabolites as the fungus. The isotope labeling of 2-hydroxycyclobenzaprine by 18O2 and the trans-configuration of the dihydrodiol suggested that these reactions were catalyzed by cytochrome P-450 monooxygenases in C. elegans. These results also demonstrated that the fungal biotransformation system could be used to predict and synthesize the mammalian drug metabolites.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amitriptyline / analogs & derivatives*
  • Amitriptyline / chemistry
  • Amitriptyline / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / chemistry
  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic / metabolism*
  • Biotransformation
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Fungi / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Rats


  • Antidepressive Agents, Tricyclic
  • Oxygen Isotopes
  • Amitriptyline
  • cyclobenzaprine
  • Oxygen