Methylphenidate is stereoselectively hydrolyzed by human carboxylesterase CES1A1

Academic Article


  • Methylphenidate is an important stimulant prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It has two chiral centers, but most current commercial formulations consist of the racemic mixture of the threo pair of methylphenidate isomers (d-, l-threo-methylphenidate). The d-isomer is the pharmacologically active component. Numerous studies reported that oral administration of the methylphenidate racemate undergoes first-pass, stereoselective clearance in humans with l-methylphenidate being eliminated faster than d-methylphenidate. Accordingly, the kinetics of hydrolysis of individual enantiomers by purified native and recombinant human liver carboxylesterases CES1A1 and CES2 and a colon isoenzyme CES3 were examined with a liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry assay. The expression of CES1A1, CES2, and CES3 in Sf9 cells and the methods for purification of the three isoenzymes are reported. CES1A1 has a high catalytic efficiency for both d- and l-enantiomers of methylphenidate. No catalytic activity was detected with CES2 and CES3 for either enantiomer. The catalytic efficiency of CES1A1 for l-methylphenidate (kcat/Km = 7.7 mM-1 min -1) is greater than that of d-methylphenidate (kcat/K m = 1.3-2.1 mM-1 min-1). Hence, the catalytic efficiency of CES1A1 for methylphenidate enantiomers agrees with stereoselective clearance of methylphenidate reported in human subjects. Both enantiomers of methylphenidate can be fit into the three-dimensional model of CES1A1 to form productive complexes in the active site. We conclude that CES1A1 is the major enzyme responsible for the first-pass, stereoselective metabolism of methylphenidate.
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    Author List

  • Sun Z; Murry DJ; Sanghani SP; Davis WI; Kedishvili NY; Zou Q; Hurley TD; Bosron WF
  • Start Page

  • 469
  • End Page

  • 476
  • Volume

  • 310
  • Issue

  • 2