Cocaine metabolism accelerated by a re-engineered human butyrylcholinesterase

Hong Sun, Maryann L. Shen, Yuan Ping Pang, Oksana Lockridge, Stephen Brimijoin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Plasma butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is important in the metabolism of cocaine, but natural human BChE has limited therapeutic potential for detoxication because of low catalytic efficiency with cocaine. Here we report pharmacokinetics of cocaine in rats treated with A328W/Y332A BChE, an excellent cocaine hydrolase designed with the aid of molecular modeling. Compared with wild-type BChE, this enzyme hydrolyzes cocaine with 40-fold improved kcat (154 min-1 versus 4.1 min-1) and only slightly increased KM (18 μM versus 4.5 μM). In rats given this hydrolase (3 mg/kg i.v.) 10 min before cocaine challenge (6.8 mg/kg i.v.), cocaine half-life was reduced from 52 min to 18 min. Mirroring the reductions of plasma cocaine were large increases in benzoic acid, a product of BChE-mediated cocaine hydrolysis. All other pharmacokinetic parameters confirmed a large, dose-dependent acceleration of cocaine removal by the injected cocaine hydrolase. These results show that A328W/Y332A, an efficient cocaine hydrolase in vivo as well as in vitro, might promote cocaine detoxication in a clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)710-716
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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