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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Malaria Journal 1/2012

CYP450 phenotyping and accurate mass identification of metabolites of the 8-aminoquinoline, anti-malarial drug primaquine

Malaria Journal > Ausgabe 1/2012
Brandon S Pybus, Jason C Sousa, Xiannu Jin, James A Ferguson, Robert E Christian, Rebecca Barnhart, Chau Vuong, Richard J Sciotti, Gregory A Reichard, Michael P Kozar, Larry A Walker, Colin Ohrt, Victor Melendez
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1475-2875-11-259) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

BSP and JCS: manuscript preparation, experimental design, data analysis and interpretation; JF, REC and CV: mass spectrometry; RB: enzyme kinetics; RJS and GAR: data interpretation, figure preparation; XJ: experimental design, data analysis and interpretation; MPK: funding, experimental design, manuscript preparation; LAW, CO and VM: funding, experimental design. Each author read and approved the final version of this manuscript.



The 8-aminoquinoline (8AQ) drug primaquine (PQ) is currently the only approved drug effective against the persistent liver stage of the hypnozoite forming strains Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale as well as Stage V gametocytes of Plasmodium falciparum. To date, several groups have investigated the toxicity observed in the 8AQ class, however, exact mechanisms and/or metabolic species responsible for PQ’s haemotoxic and anti-malarial properties are not fully understood.


In the present study, the metabolism of PQ was evaluated using in vitro recombinant metabolic enzymes from the cytochrome P450 (CYP) and mono-amine oxidase (MAO) families. Based on this information, metabolite identification experiments were performed using nominal and accurate mass measurements.


Relative activity factor (RAF)-weighted intrinsic clearance values show the relative role of each enzyme to be MAO-A, 2C19, 3A4, and 2D6, with 76.1, 17.0, 5.2, and 1.7% contributions to PQ metabolism, respectively. CYP 2D6 was shown to produce at least six different oxidative metabolites along with demethylations, while MAO-A products derived from the PQ aldehyde, a pre-cursor to carboxy PQ. CYPs 2C19 and 3A4 produced only trace levels of hydroxylated species.


As a result of this work, CYP 2D6 and MAO-A have been implicated as the key enzymes associated with PQ metabolism, and metabolites previously identified as potentially playing a role in efficacy and haemolytic toxicity have been attributed to production via CYP 2D6 mediated pathways.
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