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Evaluation of proposed sulphoxidation pathways of carbocysteine in man by HPLC quantification

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A quantitative study has been made of the metabolism of S-carboxymethyl-L-cysteine (CMC) and its sulphoxides in volunteers by HPLC. Precolumn derivatization was applied prior to gradient reversed phase HPLC separation and fluorescence detection. For CMC and its metabolites containing a primary amino group the reagent 9-fluorenylmethylchloroformate was used. The other metabolites of CMC were derivatized at their carboxylic group with 1-pyrenyldiazomethane to give stable fluorescent products.

Urine samples were collected for 8 h after oral administration of 1.125 g CMC to 33 healthy volunteers. Elimination of CMC in urine as sulphoxides did not account for more than 1% of the dose in any of the volunteers. Thus, CMC-sulphoxide metabolites are not quantitatively important. Recovery of the original substance in 8-hour urines ranged from 10 to 30% and a further 2 to 20% was recovered as the metabolite thiodiglycolic acid.

Oral doses of 0.19, 1.125, and 2.25 g CMC in a second group of 12 healthy volunteers did not reveal dose dependence of the urinary excretion of the sulphoxides or of thiodiglycolic acid.

Serum concentration-time-curves of CMC, (S)- and (R)-CMC sulphoxide were measured in a group of 9 healthy volunteers. The CMC sulphoxides in serum reached 1.5% of the parent substance after 4 hours. The ratio of CMC to its sulphoxide metabolites was similar in serum and urine. Pharmacogenetic polymorphism of sulphoxidation was not confirmed by the specific HPLC methods used.

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Brockmöller, J., Staffeldt, B. & Roots, I. Evaluation of proposed sulphoxidation pathways of carbocysteine in man by HPLC quantification. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 40, 387–392 (1991).

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Key words

  • Carbocysteine
  • pharmacogenetics
  • drug metabolism
  • sulphoxidation
  • pharmacokinetics