Effects of influenza virus vaccine on hepatic drug metabolism

Christopher G. Meredith, Charles D. Christian, Raymond F. Johnson, Rebecca Troxell, Gary L. Davis, Steven Schenker

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61 Scopus citations


Experimental and more limited clinical studies have suggested that influenza vaccination may depress the oxidative hepatic metabolism of various drugs and lead to drug toxicity. The alleged mechanism is the formation of interferon and the resulting decrease in cytochrome P-450 available for drug oxidation. Because of the clinical and basic science implications of these reports, we undertook to study the effects of influenza vaccine on the metabolism of three commonly used drugs: chlordiazepoxide, theophylline, and lorazepam. Our healthy male subjects were studied just before and 1 and 7 days after vaccination. As expected, lorazepam metabolism, which proceeds by glucuronidation and not oxidation, was not altered by vaccination. Surprisingly, however, the oxidation of chlordiazepoxide was also not depressed by the vaccine. Theophylline oxidation, which proceeds primarily by microsomal oxidation (demethylation), was significantly decreased 1 day, but not 7 days, after vaccination. Serum α-interferon levels rose after vaccination for only about 8 hours, and levels of γ-interferon rose to about 500 IU/ml at 24 hours, peaked at 72 hours, and returned to normal by 100 hours after dosing. It appeared that the higher the theophylline clearance before vaccination, the greater the degree of clearance depression after vaccination. Thus the inhibition of drug oxidation after influenza vaccination is selective and each drug should be studied individually. The degree of depression of theophylline clearance is small and transient and appears to be greater in subjects with higher prevaccination clearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-401
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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