Basic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology

Pre-systemic elimination of tilidine: localization and consequences for the formation of the active metabolite nortilidine.

PMID 25223231


The therapeutic activity of tilidine, an opioid analgesic, is mainly related to its active metabolite nortilidine. Nortilidine formation mainly occurs during the high intestinal first-pass metabolism of tilidine by N-demethylation. Elimination of the active nortilidine to the inactive bisnortilidine is also mediated by N-demethylation and is supposed to take place in the liver, probably at a smaller rate. The aim of this study was the investigation of the pre-systemic elimination of tilidine using grapefruit juice (GFJ) as an intestinal CYP3A4 inhibitor and efavirenz (EFV) as a CYP3A4 activator. A randomized, open, placebo-controlled, cross-over study was conducted in 12 healthy volunteers using 100 mg tilidine solution p.o., regular strength GFJ 250 mL (3 times at 12-hr intervals) and EFV 400 mg (12 hr before tilidine administration). Tilidine, nortilidine and bisnortilidine in plasma and urine were quantified by a validated LC/MS/MS analysis. GFJ did not change any pharmacokinetic parameter of tilidine and its metabolites, which suggests that intestinal CYP3A4 does not contribute to the first-pass metabolism of tilidine. No effect of EFV on the pharmacokinetics of the active nortilidine was observed except a significant reduction of the terminal elimination half-life by 15%. Overall elimination (renal and metabolic clearances) was unaffected by every treatment. CYP3A4 does not seem to play a major role in tilidine first-pass and overall metabolism. Other unknown metabolites and their enzymes responsible for their formation have to be investigated as they account for the majority of renally excreted metabolites.