The combination of caffeine with acetaminophen (APAP) is used widely in the treatment of headache. The effects of caffeine on APAP-induced hepatotoxicity and APAP bioactivation by liver microsomes from uninduced mice and from mice pretreated with various agents that induce cytochrome P450 were studied. When 1 mM caffeine was included, the rate of glutathione-APAP conjugate (GS-APAP) formation was increased significantly by 33 and 39% in microsomes from phenobarbital (PB)- and dexamethasone (DEX)-treated mice, respectively, whereas this parameter was decreased 39 and 12% by caffeine in microsomes from β-naphthoflavone (βNF)- and acetone-treated mice, respectively. A 5 mM concentration of caffeine increased GS-APAP formation by 47, 107 and 117% in microsomes from control, PB-, and DEX-treated mice, respectively, and decreased it 39 and 25% in microsomes from βNF- and acetone-treated mice, respectively. Caffeine was a competitive inhibitor of APAP bioactivation in microsomes from βNF- and acetone-treated mice. While caffeine increased APAP bioactivation in microsomes from uninduced, PB-, and DEX-treated mice, the apparent Km values for APAP were increased by caffeine, indicating that this enhancement was not due to a direct effect of caffeine on APAP binding to cytochrome P450 but may be due to an effect of caffeine on the substrate-enzyme complex. The variable effect of caffeine on APAP hepatotoxicity correlated with the effect of caffeine on APAP bioactivation by liver microsomes, regardless of pretreatment. Lack of correlation of aminopyrine N-demethylase, but good correlation of erythromycin N-demethylase activity with the extent of caffeine enhancement of APAP bioactivation following PB or DEX treatment suggests that a murine P450 subfamily similar to the rat P450 3A subfamily may be the candidate in mediating the stimulatory effect of caffeine on APAP bioactivation and APAP-induced hepatotoxicity.
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