Background Praziquantel (PZQ) is the only drug available for the treatment of all forms of schistosomiasis. New paediatric formulations for the active enantiomer R-PZQ and the racemate PZQ are currently under development. There is however limited drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic data on PZQ available to support these initiatives. Detailed knowledge of PZQ metabolism will enable the use of PBPK modelling to determine appropriate doses for the new formulations in paediatric patients and to predict risks for drug-drug interactions in mass drug administration.
Methods Biotransformation studies on PZQ were conducted in human liver microsomes and recombinant Cytochrome P450s (CYPs). Structure elucidation was inferred from mass spectra. Enzyme kinetic studies to determine the Michaelis-Menten kinetics, Km and Vmax, of the formation of the main metabolites and analysis of clinical samples were determined by LC-MS/MS.
Results CYP reaction phenotyping studies with HLM and r-CYPs indicate major involvement of CYP1A2, 2 C19, 2D6 and 3A4/5 in the metabolism of R- and S-PZQ. Biotransformation studies showed that PZQ is metabolised to cis-4-OH-PZQ mainly by CYP1A2 and CYP2C19. CYP3A4/5 metabolises PZQ to a mono-hydroxyl metabolite (X-OH-PZQ) whilst CYP2D6 metabolises PZQ to minor novel mono-hydroxyl metabolite (Y-OH-PZQ) both pending structural elucidation by nuclear magnetic resonance. R-PZQ was more rapidly cleared than S–PZQ with variable interindividual AUC and Cmax.
Discussion and conclusion The differential role of CYP1A2 and CYP2C19 and of CYP3A4 and CYP3A5 in the formation the 4-OH-PZQ and the novel X-OH-PZQ respectively are intriguing findings as this has not been reported before in humans. In vitro, cis and not trans 4-OH-PZQ formation has been observed contrary in vivo reports in humans which indicate trans 4-OH-PZQ as the main metabolite. The data will enable us to understand the rapid clearance of PZQ and predict potential drug-drug-gene interactions which mayexplain the inter-individual variability of PZQ pharmacokinetics.
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