Xenobiotica; the fate of foreign compounds in biological systems

Stereoselective in vivo and in vitro studies on the metabolism of doxepin and N-desmethyldoxepin.

PMID 9460230


1. Doxepin is marketed as an irrational mixture of geometric isomers such that the more active Z-isomer comprises only 15% of the total doxepin whereas the less active E-isomer makes up the remaining 85%. 2. The ratio of isomers of the doxepin remains approximately Z:E = 15:85 in the plasma of depressed patients whereas plasma levels of the active Z-N-desmethyl metabolite are similar to those of E-N-desmethyldoxepin. 3. After examination of four animal species (dog, rabbit, guinea pig, rat), rat was closest to human in terms of the Z:E ratio of the geometric isomers of N-desmethyldoxepin excreted in the 0-24-h urine. 4. Changes in the urinary Z:E ratio of the metabolite were observed after oral but not after intravenous or intraperitoneal administration of commercial doxepin to rat. 5. There was no evidence of Z/E interconversion after administration of the pure isomers to rat in vivo, or after incubation of rat or human liver homogenates with pure isomers. 6. In vitro data suggested that the distortion of the Z:E ratio of N-desmethyldoxepin was a consequence of faster metabolism of the E-isomer in comparison with Z-N-desmethyldoxepin rather than 'enrichment' of the Z-isomer at the expense of the E-isomer.