Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a well-known and widely-used analgesic. It is rapidly deacetylated to salicylic acid, which forms two hippuric acids-salicyluric acid and gentisuric acid-and two glucuronides. The oxidation of aspirin and salicylic acid has been reported with human liver microsomes, but data on individual cytochromes P450 involved in oxidation is lacking. In this study we monitored oxidation of these compounds by human liver microsomes and cytochrome P450 (P450) using UPLC with fluorescence detection. Microsomal oxidation of salicylic acid was much faster than aspirin. The two oxidation products were 2,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid (gentisic acid, documented by its UV and mass spectrum) and 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid. Formation of neither product was inhibited by desferrioxamine, suggesting a lack of contribution of oxygen radicals under these conditions. Although more liphophilic, aspirin was oxidized less efficiently, primarily to the 2,5-dihydroxy product. Recombinant human P450s 2C8, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 2E1, and 3A4 all catalyzed the 5-hydroxylation of salicylic acid. Inhibitor studies with human liver microsomes indicated that all six of the previously mentioned P450s could contribute to both the 5- and 3-hydroxylation of salicylic acid and that P450s 2A6 and 2B6 have contributions to 5-hydroxylation. Inhibitor studies indicated that the major human P450 involved in both 3- and 5-hydroxylation of salicylic acid is P450 2E1.
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