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Influence of sex on propofol metabolism, a pilot study: implications for propofol anesthesia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences. Karolinska Institutet, Yerevan State Medical University. (Translational PKPD)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1557-4416
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2012 (English)In: European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, ISSN 0031-6970, Vol. 68, no 4, 397-406 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


The basis of high intersubject variability of propofol metabolism is unclear. Therefore, we examined the influence of genetic polymorphisms of the key metabolizing enzymes cytochrome P450 2B6 (CYP2B6) and uridine diphosphate (UDP)-glucuronosyltransferase 1A9 (UGT1A9), age, and sex on propofol biotransformation in vitro and in vivo.


Plasma concentrations of propofol, 4-hydroxypropofol, and their glucuronides were measured over 20 min in 105 patients after a single intravenous bolus of propofol. Propofol 4-hydroxylation activity, genotypes, and content of CYP2B6 protein in 68 human livers were determined. The common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for the CYP2B6 and UGT1A9 genes were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


Plasma levels of propofol metabolites showed high interindividual variability (range of coefficient of variation 89–128%). This was supported by in vitro data showing similar variability of propofol 4-hydroxylation in liver microsomes and 1.9-fold higher CYP2B6 protein content in the livers from women. No significant relationships were revealed between the SNPs studied and propofol metabolism. However, patients’ sex had a pronounced effect on propofol metabolism. Thus, women had higher amounts of propofol glucuronide (1.25-fold; p = 0.03), 4-hydroxypropofol-1-glucuronide (2.1-fold; p = 0.0009), and 4-hydroxypropofol-4-glucuronide (1.7-fold; p  = 0.02) as shown by the weight-corrected area under the time–plasma concentration curve of metabolites. Additionally, the sexual dimorphism in 4-hydroxypropofol glucuronidation was prominent in the 35- to 64-year-old subgroup.


No significant effects of CYP2B6 and UGT1A9 SNPs or age on propofol metabolism were revealed in this pilot study, but there was a pronounced effect of sex, a finding that indicates an important factor for the previously described sex difference in systemic clearance of propofol seen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 68, no 4, 397-406 p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Clinical Pharmacology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-221134DOI: 10.1007/s00228-011-1132-2OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-221134DiVA: diva2:707830

Irena Loryan and Marja Lindqvist contributed equally to this work.

Available from: 2014-03-25 Created: 2014-03-25 Last updated: 2014-03-26Bibliographically approved

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Publisher's full texthttp://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00228-011-1132-2

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