Role of cDNA-expressed human cytochromes P450 in the metabolism of diazepam

Biochem Pharmacol. 1998 Mar 15;55(6):889-96. doi: 10.1016/s0006-2952(97)00558-3.


The metabolic conversion of diazepam (DZ) to temazepam (TMZ, a C3-hydroxylation product of DZ) and N-desmethyldiazepam (NDZ, an N1-demethylation product of DZ) was studied using cDNA-expressed human cytochrome P450 (CYP) isozymes 1A2, 2B6, 2C8, 2C9, 2C9R144C, 2E1, 3A4, and 3A5 and human liver microsomes from five organ donors. Of the CYPs examined, 3A5, 3A4, and 2B6 exhibited the highest enzymatic activities with turnovers ranging from 7.5 to 12.5 nmol of product formed/min/nmol for the total metabolism of DZ, while 2C8, 2C9, and 2C9R144C showed lesser and moderate activities. 1A2 and 2E1 produced insignificant amounts of metabolites of DZ. The regioselectivity of CYPs was determined, and 2B6 was found to catalyze exclusively and 2C8, 2C9, and 2C9R144C preferentially the N1-demethylation of DZ to form NDZ. 3A4 and 3A5 catalyzed primarily the C3-hydroxylation of DZ, which was more extensive than the N1-demethylation. The ratios of TMZ to NDZ formed in the metabolism of DZ by 3A4 and 3A5 were approximately 4:1. Enzyme kinetic studies indicated that 2B6- and 2C9-catalyzed DZ metabolism followed Michaelis-Menten kinetics, whereas 3A4 and 3A5 displayed atypical and non-linear curves in Lineweaver-Burk plots. Human liver microsomes converted DZ to both TMZ and NDZ at a ratio of 2:1. Our results suggest that hepatic CYP3A, 2C, and 2B6 enzymes have an important role in the metabolism of DZ by human liver.

MeSH terms

  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics*
  • DNA, Complementary / biosynthesis*
  • Diazepam / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / genetics*
  • Kinetics
  • Linear Models
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology*
  • Nordazepam / metabolism
  • Temazepam / metabolism


  • DNA, Complementary
  • Isoenzymes
  • Nordazepam
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Temazepam
  • Diazepam