Comparison of theophylline and theobromine metabolism in man

D. J. Birkett, R. Dahlqvist, J. O. Miners, A. Lelo, B. Billing

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40 Citations (Scopus)


The total plasma and partial metabolic and renal clearances of theobromine and theophylline were determined in 13 healthy volunteers. The plasma clearance for theobromine was 46% greater than that for theophylline, but the unbound clearences were almost identical. Theobromine renal clearance was 67% greater that that for theophylline but most of the difference was due to the lower protein binding of theobromine (free fraction = 0.86 compared to 0.58 for theophylline). Clearance by N-demethylation at the 3-position was 3.7-fold higher (unbound clearance 2.5-fold higher) for the theobromine than for theophylline, showing that the position of the other methyl substituent (positions 1 or 7) is a major determinant of metabolic rate. There was a high degree of correlation between theophylline and theobromine plasma clearances (r=0.86) and also between partial metabolic clearences both within drugs and across drugs (r=0.65-0.99). The renal clearances of theophylline and theobromine were also correlated (r=0.71). The results support the view that theophylline and theobromine are metobolized by a common group of cytochromes P-450 under similar regulatory control. Theobromine is a good model compound for assessing the activity of these enzymes in man as it has low pharmacological activity and low protein binding, its total and partial metabolic clearences correlate closely with those of theophylline, ond close to 100% of the dose can be recovered as known metabolites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-728
Number of pages4
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


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