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Current drug metabolism

Bioactivation and hepatotoxicity of nitroaromatic drugs.


PMID 17073576

Abstract

Certain drugs containing a nitroaromatic moiety (e.g., tolcapone, nimesulide, nilutamide, flutamide, nitrofurantoin) have been associated with organ-selective toxicity including rare cases of idiosyncratic liver injury. What they have in common is the potential for multistep nitroreductive bioactivation (6-electron transfer) that produces the potentially hazardous nitroanion radical, nitroso intermediate, and N-hydroxy derivative. These intermediates have been associated with increased oxidant stress and targeting of nucleophilic residues on proteins and nucleic acids. However, other mechanisms including the formation of oxidative metabolites and mitochondrial liability, as well as inherent toxicokinetic properties, also determine the drugs' overall potency. Therefore, structural modification not only of the nitro moiety but also of ring substituents can greatly reduce toxicity. Novel concepts have revealed that, besides the classical microsomal nitroreductases, cytosolic and mitochondrial enzymes including nitric oxide synthase can also bioactivate certain nitroarenes (nilutamide). Furthermore, animal models of silent mitochondrial dysfunction have demonstrated that a mitochondrial oxidant stress posed by certain nitroaromatic drugs (nimesulide) can produce significant mitochondrial injury if superimposed on a genetic mitochondrial abnormality. Finally, there may be mechanisms for all nitroaromatic drugs that do not involve bioactivation of the nitro group, e.g., AHR interactions with flutamide. Taken together, the focus of research on the hepatic toxicity of nitroarene-containing drugs has shifted over the past years from the identification of the reactive intermediates generated during the bioreductive pathway to the underlying biomechanisms of liver injury. Most likely one of the next paradigm shifts will include the identification of determinants of susceptibility to nitroaromatic drug-induced hepatotoxicity.

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