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Trimethylamine: Metabolic, Pharmacokinetic and Safety Aspects

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Trimethylamine (TMA) is a volatile tertiary aliphatic amine that is derived from the diet either directly from the consumption of foods containing TMA, or by the intake of food containing precursors to TMA such as trimethylamine-Noxide (TMNO), choline and L-carnitine. Following oral absorption in humans, TMA undergoes efficient N-oxidation to TMNO, a reaction catalyzed by the flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO) isoform 3 enzyme. TMNO subsequently undergoes excretion in the urine, although, evidence also suggests that metabolic retro-reduction of TMNO can occur. Whilst the pharmacokinetics of TMA and TMNO has not been fully elucidated in humans, a number of studies provide information on the likely fate of dietary derived TMA. Trimethylaminuria is a condition that is characterized by a deficiency in FMO3 enzyme activity, resulting in the excretion of increased amounts of TMA in bodily fluids such as urine and sweat, and breath. A human FMO3 database has been established and currently twenty-eight variants of the FMO3 gene have been reported including twenty-four missense, three nonsense, and one gross deletion mutation. Whilst TMA and TMNO are generally regarded as non-toxic substances, they are of clinical interest because of their potential to form the carcinogen N-nitrosodimethylamine.
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Keywords: end stage renal disease; n-nitrosodimethylamine; trimethylamine; trimethylamine-n-oxide; trimethylaminuria

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Centre for Pharmaceutical Research, School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide SA 5000.

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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  • 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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