Metronidazole Metabolism in Neonates and the Interplay Between Ontogeny and Genetic Variation

The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology • February 2017.

Wang LA, Gonzalez D, Leeder JS, Tyndale RF, Pearce RE, Benjamin DK Jr, Kearns GL, Cohen-Wolkowiez M; Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act-Pediatric Trials Network Steering Committee.

Metronidazole is commonly used to treat intra-abdominal infections in neonates. The parent drug is converted to 5 metabolites, with 2-hydroxy-metronidazole being the most clinically significant, as it possesses 30–65% of the antimicrobial activity of the parent compound. In vitro studies have demonstrated that cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6) is the primary catalyst responsible for metronidazole hydroxylation. This enzyme is initially expressed at low levels at birth, with expression increasing over the course of the first year of life to reach adult levels. CYP2A6 is known to be a highly polymorphic gene with more than 45 variant alleles that result in inactive to ultra-rapid metabolizer phenotypes. Additionally, certain allelic variants such as CYP2A6*17 have amino acid changes that alter metabolism for some but not other substrates, resulting in different metabolizing phenotypes for the same genotype. The role of genetic variation on variable metronidazole metabolism in neonates has not been previously described, nor has the effect of CYP2A6*17 on metronidazole been characterized. As such, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of CYP2A6 genetic variation on the pharmacokinetics of metronidazole in a small cohort of preterm neonates.

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