A Fatal Doxepin Poisoning Associated With a Defective CYP2D6 Genotype


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Abstract

It has been suggested that the polymorphism of the CYP2D6 gene can contribute to occurrence of fatal adverse effects. We therefore investigated postmortem toxicology cases of fatal drug poisonings related to CYP2D6 substrates, with the manner of death denoted as accidental or undetermined. CYP2D6 genotypes were determined in 11 consecutive cases with samples available for DNA analysis. A case of fatal doxepin poisoning with an undetermined manner of death was found to coincide with a completely nonfunctional CYP2D6 genotype (*3/*4), indicating a total absence of CYP2D6 enzyme and suggesting a poor metabolizer phenotype.The doxepin concentration was 2.4 mg/L, the concentration of nordoxepin 2.9 mg/L, and the doxepin/nordoxepin ratio 0.83, the lowest found among the 35 nordoxepin-positive postmortem cases analyzed during the same year. No alcohols or other drugs were detected in the case. The CYP2C19 genotype was determined as that of an extensive metabolizer.The high N-desmethylmetabolite concentration is not consistent with acute intoxication. It is therefore probable that the defective genotype has contributed to the death, possibly involving repeated high dosage of doxepin. Our case strongly emphasizes that a pharmacogenetic analysis in postmortem forensic setting may reveal new insight to the cause or manner of death.

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