Drug and pro-drug substrates and pseudo-substrates of human butyrylcholinesterase

Patrick Masson, Zukhra Shaihutdinova, Oksana Lockridge

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is present in plasma and numerous cells and organs. Its physiological function(s) is(are) still unclear. However, this enzyme is of pharmacological and toxicological importance. It displays a broad specificity and is capable of hydrolyzing a wide range of substrates with turnovers differing by several orders of magnitude. Nowaday, these substrates include more than two dozen carboxyl-ester drugs, numerous acetylated prodrugs, and transition state analogues of acetylcholine. In addition, BChE displays a promiscuous hydrolytic activity toward amide bonds of arylacylamides, and slowly hydrolyzes carbamyl- and phosphoryl-esters. Certain pseudo-substrates like carbamates and organophosphates are major drugs of potential medical interest. The existence of a large genetic poly-allelism, affecting the catalytic properties of BChE is at the origin of clinical complications in the use of certain drugs catabolized by BChE. The number of drugs and prodrugs hydrolyzed by BChE is expected to increase in the future. However, very few quantitative data (Km, kcat) are available for most marketed drugs, and except for myorelaxants like succinylcholine and mivacurium, the impact of BChE genetic mutations on catalytic parameters has not been evaluated for most of these drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115910
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Arylacylamide
  • Butyrylcholinesterase
  • Carbamate
  • Carboxylesterase
  • Ester
  • Organophosphate
  • Pro-drug

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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