A promising strategy for drug abuse treatment is to accelerate the drug metabolism by administration of a drug-metabolizing enzyme. The question is how effectively an enzyme can actually prevent the drug from entering brain and producing physiological effects. In the present study, we have developed a pharmacokinetic model through a combined use of in vitro kinetic parameters and positron emission tomography data in human to examine the effects of a cocaine-metabolizing enzyme in plasma on the time course of cocaine in plasma and brain of human. Without an exogenous enzyme, cocaine half-lives in both brain and plasma are almost linearly dependent on the initial cocaine concentration in plasma. The threshold concentration of cocaine in brain required to produce physiological effects has been estimated to be 0.22±0.07 µM, and the threshold area under the cocaine concentration versus time curve (AUC) value in brain (denoted by AUC2(∞)) required to produce physiological effects has been estimated to be 7.9±2.7 µM·min. It has been demonstrated that administration of a cocaine hydrolase/esterase (CocH/CocE) can considerably decrease the cocaine half-lives in both brain and plasma, the peak cocaine concentration in brain, and the AUC2(∞). The estimated maximum cocaine plasma concentration which a given concentration of drug-metabolizing enzyme can effectively prevent from entering brain and producing physiological effects can be used to guide future preclinical/clinical studies on cocaine-metabolizing enzymes. Understanding of drug-metabolizing enzymes is key to the science of pharmacokinetics. The general insights into the effects of a drug-metabolizing enzyme on drug kinetics in human should be valuable also in future development of enzyme therapies for other drugs of abuse.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in PLOS Computational Biology, v. 8, no. 7, e1002610.

© 2012 Zheng, Zhan. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Text_S1.pdf (295 kB)
Supporting document