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Mechanism of Idiosyncratic Drug Reactions: Reactive Metabolites Formation, Protein Binding and the Regulation of the Immune System

[ Vol. 3 , Issue. 4 ]


C. Ju and J. P. Uetrecht   Pages 367 - 377 ( 11 )


Drug-induced adverse reactions, especially type B reactions, represent a major clinical problem. They also impart a significant degree of uncertainty into drug development because they are often not detected until the drug has been released onto the market. Type B reactions are also termed idiosyncratic drug reactions by many investigators due to their unpredictable nature and our lack of understanding of the mechanisms involved. It is currently believed that the majority of these reactions are immune-mediated and are caused by immunogenic conjugates formed from the reaction of a reactive metabolite of a drug with cellular proteins. It has been shown that most drugs associated with idiosyncratic reactions form reactive metabolites to some degree. Covalent binding of reactive metabolites to cellular proteins has also been shown in many cases. However, studies to reveal the role of reactive metabolites and their protein-adducts in the mechanism of drug-induced idiosyncratic reactions are lacking. This review will focus on our current understanding and speculative views on how a reactive metabolite of a drug might ultimately lead to immune-mediated toxicity


type b reaction, idiosyncratic


Molecular and CellularToxicology Section, Laboratory of Molecular Immumology, NHLBI,National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA

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