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The present study was designed to characterize pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties of nebicapone in rats and mice. Upon oral administration of nebicapone the extent of mouse liver catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibition is half that in the rat. Nebicapone was rapidly absorbed reaching plasma Cmax within 30 min and being completely eliminated by 8 h. Nebicapone was metabolized mainly by glucuronidation and methylation in both species, but rat had an extra major metabolite, resulting from sulphation. Administration of nebicapone by the intraperitoneal route significantly increased compound AUC in the rat while in the mouse a significant increase in AUC of metabolites was observed. These results show that nebicapone exhibited marked species differences in bioavailability and metabolic profile. Evaluation of COMT activity in rat and mice liver homogenates revealed that both had similar methylation efficiencies (Kcat values, respectively 7.3 and 6.4 min-1), but rat had twice active enzyme units as the mouse (molar equivalency respectively 150 and 83). Furthermore, nebicapone inhibited rat liver COMT with a lower Ki than mouse liver COMT (respectively 0.2 nM vs. 1.2 nM). In conclusion, the results from the present study show that mice and rats respond differently to COMT inhibition by nebicapone. The more pronounced inhibitory effects of nebicapone in the rat may be related to an enhanced oral availability and less pronounced metabolism of nebicapone in this specie, but also concerned with the predominant expression of S-COMT over MB-COMT, the latter of which is less sensitive to inhibition by nebicapone than the former.