NAT2 and CYP1A2 phenotyping with caffeine: head-to-head comparison of AFMU vs. AAMU in the urine metabolite ratios


Laurent A. Decosterd, Division de Pharmacologie Clinique, Laboratoire BH 18-218, Département de Médecine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, 1011 Lausanne CHUV, Switzerland. Tel.: + 41 21 314 4272; Fax: + 41 21 314 4288; E-mail:


Aims  (i) To compare the phenotyping of healthy subjects for NAT2 and CYP1A2 activities with caffeine, by the simultaneous assay of the urinary metabolites AFMU and AAMU, and (ii) to ascertain whether NAT2 and CYP1A2 phenotyping is influenced by the use of AFMU or AAMU in the metabolite ratio.

Methods  Thirty-five healthy subjects (16 men, 19 women) participated to the study. Caffeine metabolite concentrations were measured in urine collected 8 h after 2.5 mg kg−1 caffeine intake using a new validated h.p.l.c. method. The metabolite ratios AFMU/1X, AFMU/(AFMU+1X+1U), AAMU/1X, AAMU/(AAMU+1X+1 U), and (AFMU+1U+1X)/17U, (AAMU+1U+1X)/17U were determined as indices of NAT2 and CYP1A2 activity, respectively.

Results  Slow and rapid acetylators were similarly identified using the four NAT2 metabolite ratios in 139 out of 140 measurements. An appreciable amount of AAMU was present in urine that was immediately acidified and analysed. Consequently, the ratio using AFMU was lower than that using total AAMU following transformation of AFMU in basic conditions. The proportion of AFMU in urine analysed immediately expressed as AFMU/(AFMU+AAMU) ratio did not correlate with urine pH, but was a function of the acetylation phenotype, with a low intergroup variability (64 ± 3% and 32 ± 5%, for rapid and slow acetylators, respectively; P < 0.00001, anova). Regarding CYP1A2 activity, a good correlation (r = 0.99) was observed between the metabolite ratios calculated from AFMU and AAMU, although the ratios calculated from AFMU were proportionately and systematically lower P < 0.00001, paired t-test, slope 1.2).

Conclusions  This study demonstrates that both AFMU and AAMU can be used for NAT2 and CYP1A2 metabolite ratio determinations. The reported conversion of AFMU into AAMU is unlikely to explain the large amount of AAMU in urine that was acidified and analysed immediately after voiding. The results suggest that AAMU is formed not solely through a nonenzymatic hydrolysis in urine, but in vivo by a NAT2 phenotype-dependent pathway.