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Enoxacin — a potent inhibitor of theophylline metabolism

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The mechanism of the theophylline-enoxacin interaction has been studied in six healthy subjects. Theophylline 250 mg was administered p.o., twice daily for 11 days in a sustained release dosage form. On the 4th day of treatment, blood samples were taken every 2 h and urine was collected over 1 dose interval. From Days 5 to 11 coated tablets of enoxacin 400 mg b.i.d. were coadministered. On Day 11 blood and urine were collected as on Day 4.

The mean plasma theophylline concentration rose from 4.4 to 15.1 mg/l, corresponding to a 73.6% reduction in total clearance. The urinary excretion of unchanged theophylline increased from 12.7 to 35.3%, whereas the production of metabolites was reduced (1-demethylation 81.4%; 3-demethylation 83.1%, 8-hydroxylation 74.6%).

The results indicate that the theophylline-enoxacin interaction may be due to inhibition of the cytochrome P-450 isozymes responsible for theophylline metabolism.

Unexpectedly, the renal clearance of theophylline metabolites was found to be drastically reduced when enoxacin was coadministered. This led to unchanged or even to elevated plasma levels of the metabolites. The mechanism of this interaction is still to be elucidated, but it may be due to competition for renal tubular secretion.

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Beckmann, J., Elsäßer, W., Gundert-Remy, U. et al. Enoxacin — a potent inhibitor of theophylline metabolism. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 33, 227–230 (1987).

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Key words

  • enoxacin
  • theophylline
  • drug interaction
  • healthy volunteers
  • adverse effects
  • pharmacokinetics
  • renal tubular excretion