Papers And Originals

Genetic Control of Phenylbutazone Metabolism in Man

Br Med J 1970; 4 doi: (Published 07 November 1970) Cite this as: Br Med J 1970;4:323
  1. J. A. Whittaker,
  2. D. A. Price Evans


    The purposes of the present investigation were to assess the genetic contribution to thevariability between individuals in the rate at which they metabolize phenylbutazone and to characterize the type of inheritance that controls the metabolism of the drug. The 155 persons investigated included 43 unrelated random individual subjects and the members of 28 two-generation family units. None of these subjects had taken drugs in the six months preceding the experiments. Each subject ingested an oral dose of phenylbutazone and the plasma half-life of the drug was determined. These non-pretreated plasma phenylbutazone half-lives suggest the existence of polygenic control, but the value of the data is marred by the frequency distribution being very skewed.

    The 142 persons given a second test, included 41 unrelated random subjects and 24 two-generation family units. A three-day course of oral phenobarbitone was followed by an oral dose of phenylbutazone and the plasma half-life of the latter determined. The phenobarbitone was given with the aim of “inducing” drugmetabolizing enzymes in the liver, thus rendering the environment more uniform. When the post-phenobarbitone half-lives were adjusted to a standard height they were approximately normally distributed. There was a significant regression of mean offspring value on mid-parent value, indicating that about 65% of the observed phenotypic variance of post-phenobarbitone plasma phenylbutazone half-lives is due to the additive effects of genes.

    Phenylbutazone metabolism in man is thus shown to be under polygenic control, and genetically controlled in a similar manner and to a similar degree to body height.

    Improved understanding of phenylbutazone metabolism may lead to improved therapeutic efficacy and a lower incidence of adverse reactions.