Chiral plasma pharmacokinetics and urinary excretion of bupropion and metabolites in healthy volunteers

Andrea R. Masters, Brandon T. Gufford, Jessica Bo Li Lu, Ingrid F. Metzger, David R. Jones, Zeruesenay Desta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


Bupropion, widely used as an antidepressant and smoking cessation aid, undergoes complex metabolism to yield numerous metabolites with unique disposition, effect, and drug'drug interactions (DDIs) in humans. The stereoselective plasma and urinary pharmacokinetics of bupropion and its metabolites were evaluated to understand their potential contributions to bupropion effects. Healthy human volunteers (n = 15) were administered a single oral dose of racemic bupropion (100 mg), which was followed by collection of plasma and urine samples and determination of bupropion and metabolite concentrations using novel liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry assays. Time-dependent, elimination rate-limited, stereoselective pharmacokinetics were observed for all bupropion metabolites. Area under the plasma concentration-time curve from zero to infinity ratios were on average approximately 65, 6, 6, and 4 and Cmax ratios were approximately 35, 6, 3, and 0.5 for (2R,3R)-/(2S,3S)-hydroxybupropion, R-/S-bupropion, (1S,2R)-/(1R,2S)-erythrohydrobupropion, and (1R,2R)-/(1S,2S)- threohydrobupropion, respectively. The R-/S-bupropion and (1R,2R)-/(1S,2S)-threohydrobupropion ratios are likely indicative of higher presystemic metabolism of S- versus R-bupropion by carbonyl reductases. Interestingly, the apparent renal clearance of (2S,3S)-hydroxybupropion was almost 10-fold higher than that of (2R,3R)-hydroxybupropion. The prediction of steadystate pharmacokinetics demonstrated differential stereospecific accumulation [partial area under the plasma concentration-time curve after the final simulated bupropion dose (300-312 hours) from 185 to 37,447 nM×h] and elimination [terminal half-life of approximately 7-46 hours] of bupropion metabolites, which may explain observed stereoselective differences in bupropion effect and DDI risk with CYP2D6 at steady state. Further elucidation of bupropion and metabolite disposition suggests that bupropion is not a reliable in vivo marker of CYP2B6 activity. In summary, to our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive report to provide novel insight into mechanisms underlying bupropion disposition by detailing the stereoselective pharmacokinetics of individual bupropion metabolites, which will enhance clinical understanding of bupropion's effects and DDIs with CYP2D6.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-238
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology

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