Cytochrome P450 genetic polymorphism in neonatal drug metabolism: role and practical consequences towards a new drug culture in neonatology.

Daniela Fanni, R. Ambu, C. Gerosa, S. Nemolato, Massimo Castagnola, P. Van Eyken, G. Faa, V. Fanos

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24 Citations (Scopus)


The cytochrome P450 superfamily (CYP450) in humans is formed by 57 functional monooxygenases critical for the metabolism of numerous endogenous and exogenous compounds. The superfamily is organized into 18 families and 44 subfamilies. CYP nomenclature is based on the identity of amino acids. The most important functions of the CYP450 are related to metabolism of endogenous compounds, detoxification of exogenous xenobiotics and decomposition of the vast majority of currently used drugs. The expression of CYP450 enzymes in the human body is characterized by a marked substrate and tissue specificity, the most important being localized in the liver, but also present in kidney, lung, brain, breast, prostate and in the small intestine. The human cytochrome P450 3A gene family (CYP3A) accounts for the largest portion of CYP450 proteins in human liver and includes 4 genes: CYP3A4, CYP3A5, CYP3A7, CYP3A43. Multiple and complex genetic variations, marked interindividual, interethnic and gender variability have been reported regarding CYP3A isoform expression and activity. Multiple factors may affect CYP3A expression and activity, such as inducers like rifampicin, phenobarbital, 3-methylcholantrene, beta-naphtoflavone, and dexamethasone. The maturation of organ systems, paralleled by ontogeny of drug-metabolizing enzymes during fetal life and in the first months of postnatal life, surely exerts profound effects on drug disposition, probably being the predominant factor accounting for age-associated changes in drug clearance. In fact, drug dosage in the perinatal period represents a continuous challenge for neonatologists. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief review of the pharmacokinetic differences between neonates and adults, showing the peculiarities of liver CYP450-related drug metabolism in the perinatal period and at birth, and to report the toxic mechanisms of liver injury in neonates, due to the most frequently utilized drugs in NICU centers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-13
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Metabolism


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