Effects of propofol on human hepatic microsomal cytochrome P450 activities

Xenobiotica. 1998 Sep;28(9):845-53. doi: 10.1080/004982598239092.


1. The potential of propofol to inhibit the activity of major human cytochrome P450 enzymes has been examined in vitro using human liver microsomes. Propofol produced inhibition of CYP1A2 (phenacetin O-deethylation), CYP2C9 (tolbutamide 4'-hydroxylation), CYP2D6 (dextromethorphan O-demethylation) and CYP3A4 (testosterone 6beta-hydroxylation) activities with IC50 = 40, 49, 213 and 32 microM respectively. Ki for propofol against all of these enzymes with the exception of CYP2D6, where propofol showed little inhibitory activity, was 30, 30 and 19 microM respectively for CYPs 1A2, 2C9 and 3A4. 2. Furafylline, sulphaphenazole, quinidine and ketoconazole, known selective inhibitors of CYPs 1A2, 2C9, 2D6 and 3A4 respectively, were much more potent than propofol having IC50 = 0.8, 0.5, 0.2 and 0.1 microM; furafylline and sulphaphenazole yielded Ki = 0.6 and 0.7 microM respectively. 3. The therapeutic blood concentration of propofol (20 microM; 3-4 microg/ml) together with the in vitro Ki estimates for each of the major human P450 enzymes have been used to estimate the extent of cytochrome P450 inhibition, which may be produced in vivo by propofol. This in vitro-in vivo extrapolation indicates that the degree of inhibition of CYP1A2, 2C9 and 3A4 activity which could theoretically be produced in vivo by propofol is relatively low (40-51%); this is considered unlikely to have any pronounced clinical significance. 4. Although propofol has now been used in > 190 million people since its launch in 1986, there are only single reports of possible drug interactions between propofol and either alfentanil or warfarin. Consequently, it is difficult to conclude from either the published literature or the ZENECA safety database whether there is any evidence to indicate that propofol produces clinically significant drug interactions through inhibition of cytochrome P450-related drug metabolism.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Intravenous*
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Drug Interactions
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology*
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Oxidoreductases, O-Demethylating / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Propofol / blood
  • Propofol / pharmacology*
  • Steroid 16-alpha-Hydroxylase*
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Anesthetics, Intravenous
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Oxidoreductases, O-Demethylating
  • dextromethorphan O-demethylase
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • CYP2C9 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C9
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP1A2 protein, human
  • CYP3A protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Steroid 16-alpha-Hydroxylase
  • CYP3A4 protein, human
  • Propofol