Effects of the CYP2D6 Gene Duplication on the Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Tramadol

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The analgesic drug tramadol is bioactivated by CYP2D6 to the opioid receptor agonist O-desmethyltramadol. Case reports indicated that carriers of the CYP2D6 gene duplication may be at high risk for opioid adverse events. However, the effects of the CYP2D6 duplication on kinetics and dynamics of tramadol have not been systematically studied. Pharmacokinetics and effects were monitored after a single dose of 100 mg racemic tramadol in 11 carriers of a CYP2D6 gene duplication allele (ultrarapid metabolizer [UM]) and compared with 11 carriers of 2 active CYP2D6 genes (extensive metabolizer [EM]). Pharmacodynamics was measured by cold pressure test, pupillometry, and standardized adverse event recording. The maximum plasma concentrations of the active metabolite (+)R,R-O-desmethyltramadol were significantly higher in the UM group compared with the EM group (P = 0.005; t test) with a mean difference of 14 ng/mL (95% confidence limit of difference, 2-26 ng/mL). Median (+)R,R-tramadol area under the curve was 786 and 587 μg·h·L−1 in EMs and UMs, and the corresponding median (+)R,R-O-desmethyltramadol area under thecurve was 416 and 448 μg·h·L−1 (P = 0.005, t test). There was an increased pain threshold and pain tolerance and a stronger miosis after tramadol in UMs compared with EMs. Almost 50% of the UM group experienced nausea compared with only 9% of the EM group. In conclusion, pharmacokinetic differences between EMs and UMs were smaller than expected; nevertheless, UMs were more sensitive to tramadol than EMs. Therefore, tramadol may frequently cause adverse effects in southern European and Northern African populations with a high proportion of UMs.

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