Mechanisms of activation of phenacetin to reactive metabolites by cytochrome P-450: a theoretical study involving radical intermediates

L. Koymans, J.H. Lenthe, G M Donné-op Den Kelder, N P Vermeulen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The cytochrome P-450-mediated activation of phenacetin (PHEN) to reactive intermediates by two hypothetical mechanisms has been studied by use of SV 6-31G ab initio energy and spin distribution calculations. In our calculations, the cytochrome P-450 enzyme system has been substituted by a singlet oxygen atom in order to reduce the computational efforts and to fulfill the requirements as to spin conservation. Both mechanisms are based on the currently increasingly accepted view that radical intermediates, formed via sequential one-electron steps, play a crucial role in the metabolic activation of substrates by cytochrome P-450. The first pathway is proposed to involve an initial abstraction of an electron and a proton from the alpha-methylene carbon atom in the ethoxy side chain and can explain the O-deethylation products paracetamol and acetaldehyde. In the second pathway, an initial abstraction of an electron and a proton from the nitrogen atom in the acetylamino side chain is proposed. The calculated spin densities of the formed nitrogen radical indicate that the unpaired electron is primarily localized at the nitrogen atom and to a smaller extent at the ortho- and paracarbon atoms relative to the acetylamino group. Radical recombination reactions between a hydroxyl radical and the spin delocalization-radicalized reactive centers of the nitrogen radical can explain the formation of the metabolites N-hydroxy-PHEN, 2-hydroxy-PHEN, and the arylating metabolite N-acetyl-p-benzoquinone imine (NAPQI), which forms a 3-(S-glutathionyl)paracetamol conjugate in the presence of glutathione. NAPQI is proposed to be formed via intermediate formation of a hemiketal. Proposals are made for the decomposition of this hemiketal into NAPQI that are consistent with currently available experimental data on 14C- and 18O-labeled PHEN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-60
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Pharmacology
Volume37
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1990

Keywords

  • Biotransformation
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Ethyl Ethers
  • Free Radicals
  • Glutathione
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Peroxides
  • Phenacetin
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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