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Stereoselectivity in Drug Metabolism: Molecular Mechanisms and Analytical Methods

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About 50% of therapeutic drugs are currently administered as a racemate, a mixture of equal proportions of two enantiomers. In an achiral environment, the enantiomers of a chiral drug show identical chemical and physical properties. However, they can present different chemical and pharmacological behavior in a chiral environment such as in the body. The interaction of two enantiomers with a chiral macromolecule, such as an enzyme or receptor, is three dimensional in nature, forming diastereomeric complexes resulting in a chiral recognition process. Moreover, when administered as a racemate, two enantiomers can display the pharmacokinetic processes (absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion) in a stereoselective manner. Among these processes, stereoselectivity plays a central role in the metabolism due to the involvement of the enzymatic system. Thus, the purpose of the current review is to present important aspects related to stereochemistry of drug metabolism, with emphasis on molecular mechanisms involved in enzyme mediated reactions, such as those catalyzed by cytochrome P450, uridine 5'-diphospho (UDP)-glucuronosyltransferases and sulfotransferases. Additionally, recent advances regarding the analysis of chiral drugs and their metabolites employing different analytical techniques (high-performance liquid chromatography-HPLC and capillary electrophoresis-CE) will also be outlined.

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Keywords: Enantiomers; UDP-glucuronosyltransferases; analytical techniques; cytochrome P450; drug metabolism; stereoselectivity; sulfotransferases

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 February 2009

More about this publication?
  • Current Drug Metabolism aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in drug metabolism and disposition. The journal serves as an international forum for the publication of timely reviews in drug metabolism. Current Drug Metabolism is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments. The journal covers the following areas:

    In vitro systems including CYP-450; enzyme induction and inhibition; drug-drug interactions and enzyme kinetics; pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics, species scaling and extrapolations; P-glycoprotein and transport carriers; target organ toxicity and interindividual variability; drug metabolism and disposition studies; extrahepatic metabolism; phase I and phase II metabolism; recent developments for the identification of drug metabolites and adducts.
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