Frontiers in pharmacology

Alcohol and Aldehyde Dehydrogenases Contribute to Sex-Related Differences in Clearance of Zolpidem in Rats.

PMID 27574509


The recommended zolpidem starting dose was lowered in females (5 mg vs. 10 mg) since side effects were more frequent and severe than those of males; the mechanism underlying sex differences in pharmacokinetics (PK) is unknown. We hypothesized that such differences were caused by known sex-related variability in alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) expression. Male, female, and castrated male rats were administered 2.6 mg/kg zolpidem, ± disulfiram (ADH/ALDH pathway inhibitor) to compare PK changes induced by sex and gonadal hormones. PK analyses were conducted in rat plasma and rat brain. Sex differences in PK were evident: females had a higher C MAX (112.4 vs. 68.1 ug/L) and AUC (537.8 vs. 231.8 h(∗)ug/L) than uncastrated males. Castration induced an earlier T MAX (0.25 vs. 1 h), greater C MAX (109.1 vs. 68.1 ug/L), and a corresponding AUC increase (339.7 vs. 231.8 h(∗)ug/L). Administration of disulfiram caused more drastic C MAX and T MAX changes in male vs. female rats that mirrored the effects of castration on first-pass metabolism, suggesting that the observed PK differences may be caused by ADH/ALDH expression. Brain concentrations paralleled plasma concentrations. These findings indicate that sex differences in zolpidem PK are influenced by variation in the expression of ADH/ALDH due to gonadal androgens.

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Zolpidem, ≥98% (HPLC), solid