OBJECTIVE: To explore whether CYP3A inhibition by metronidazole is the primary mechanism by which metronidazole interacts with coadministered CYP3A substrates. DATA SOURCES: Literature was accessed using the MEDLINE database (1966-February 2007). Search terms included metronidazole, cytochrome P450, CYP3A4, CYP3A5, drug interactions, and P-glycoprotein. References from pertinent articles, as well as from tertiary sources, were also considered. STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: All articles identified from the data sources that were published in English were evaluated. Case reports and pharmacokinetic evaluations were included. DATA SYNTHESIS: Elevated plasma concentrations and toxicities have been reported for a number of CYP3A substrates including amiodarone, carbamazepine, quinidine, tacrolimus, and cyclosporine when administered with metronidazole. This has led to the widespread belief that metronidazole is a significant inhibitor of CYP3A4. However, 4 pharmacokinetic studies conducted in humans showed that metronidazole did not increase plasma concentrations of the CYP3A substrates midazolam, erythromycin, cyclosporine, and alprazolam, thereby refuting the suggestion that metronidazole is a CYP3A4/5 inhibitor. CONCLUSIONS: Drug interactions between metronidazole and certain CYP3A substrates do not appear to result from CYP3A4/5 inhibition by metronidazole. Until any mechanism is identified by which metronidazole alters the disposition of certain CYP3A substrates, drug interactions with this agent should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the safety index of the coadministered drug and the availability of equally effective substitutes for either metronidazole or the drug with which it putatively interacts.
- Cytochrome P450
- Drug interactions