Bupropion is applied in depression and smoking cessation. Genetic polymorphisms in cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6) may cause variability in bupropion pharmacokinetics since hydroxylation is known to be mediated by CYP2B6. Bupropion may be a probe drug for CYP2B6 activity in humans. Bupropion pharmacokinetics were studied after a single oral dose of 150 mg in 121 healthy male volunteers. The amino acid polymorphisms R22C, Q172H, S259R, K262R and R487C were analysed by polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment length polymorphism and plasma concentrations were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. Pharmacokinetic analysis was performed by non-parametric methods and by population pharmacokinetic modelling. A unimodal distribution of bupropion and hydroxybupropion kinetic parameters was detected with a mean (range) area under the curve (AUC) of 3.64 (0.89-8.14) micromol.h/l for bupropion and 25.5 (6.72-75.3) micromol.h/l for hydroxybupropion. Population kinetic analysis revealed that bupropion total clearance via CYP2B6 alleles *1, *2, *5 and *6 did not differ, but clearance via allele *4 was 1.66-fold higher compared to wild-type allele *1 (P=0.001). Corresponding to the high clearance of bupropion, carriers of the CYP2B6 genotype *1/*4 had significantly higher Cmax of hydroxybupropion compared to all other genotypes (P=0.03). Only a minor fraction of the variability in bupropion and hydroxybupropion kinetics could be explained by the known CYP2B6 amino acid variants, in particular by the CYP2B6*4 allele. The role of this allele should also be studied in other CYP2B6 substrates, including cyclophosphamide, halothane, mianserin, promethazine and propofol.
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