Individuals with Slower Ibuprofen Metabolism Can Self-adjust Dosage


Some took lower doses of the common painkiller even without knowing their genetic makeup slowed the drug’s elimination

New research from scientists at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research shows that some individuals whose bodies metabolize ibuprofen more slowly – causing the drug to be present at higher levels than intended – intuitively self-correct their dose without knowing their genetic makeup.

The team’s findings were published online ahead of print in Pharmacogenetics and Genomics this week.

“At least one in five Americans has common genetic variants that cause their bodies to process ibuprofen more slowly,” said lead author Stefan Zajic, PhD, principal research scientist at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research. “This means there are likely tens of millions of people who are unintentionally taking more – sometimes much more – ibuprofen than they need.”

This study focused on genetic variations in the CYP2C8 and CYP2C9 genes, genes that are involved in the metabolism of many drugs, ibuprofen included.

Researchers found that individuals with certain variations in the CYP2C8 and CYP2C9 genes were three to four times more likely to take a lower than recommended ibuprofen dose than those without them. This leads researchers to believe these individuals have either noted ibuprofen’s efficacy at the lower dose, or have adjusted their dose to avoid side effects associated with slower ibuprofen metabolism, which can range from stomach pain to serious kidney injury.

The team of researchers collected data from a cohort of 445 volunteers in the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative, a decade-long investigation into the clinical utility of genomic information, and included participants from a cohort of United States Air Force service members and their immediate family members. These volunteers contributed their DNA for analysis and answered extensive questionnaires detailing their lifestyle and medical histories, including one specifically on their over-the-counter pain medication use.

This study was supported by the United States Air Force Cooperative Agreement FA8650-14-2-6533.

Article reference: Stefan Zajic, Joseph P. Jarvis, Pan Zhang, Kaveri D. Rajula, Andrew Brangan, Ruth Brenner, Michael P. Dempsey, Michael F. Christman, “Individuals with CYP2C8 and CYP2C9 reduced metabolism haplotypes self-adjusted ibuprofen dose in the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative,” Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2018. doi: 10.1097/FPC.0000000000000364.

About the Coriell Institute for Medical Research

The Coriell Institute is a global leader in understanding how our personal genomes affect our health. Coriell is recognized as one of the world's leading biobanks, distributing biological samples and offering research and biobanking services to scientists in 85 countries around the globe. Coriell is the trusted steward of world-renowned collections for the National Institutes of Health, disease foundations and commercial clients. Coriell established its reputation as a leader in personalized medicine through the creation of the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative, a research study which investigated the clinical utility of genomic information. Scientists at Coriell are now leveraging their expertise in genomics to develop new tools to prevent and treat opioid use disorder. The Institute is also unlocking the promise of induced pluripotent stem cells and their role in disease research and drug discovery. For more information, visit, like Coriell on Facebook or follow @Coriell_Science on Twitter.

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