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Two catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) inhibitors, entacapone and tolcapone, were compared in the rat to elucidate the actual differences between their pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics after single and repeated administration. Their inhibitory potencies were also compared in vitro. After intravenous administration (3 mg/kg), the elimination half-life (t(1/2 beta)) of entacapone (0.8 h) was clearly shorter than that of tolcapone (2.9 h). The striatum/serum ratio of tolcapone was 3-fold higher than that of entacapone. After a single oral dose (10 mg/kg), both entacapone and tolcapone produced an equal maximal degree of COMT inhibition in peripheral tissues, but tolcapone inhibited striatal COMT more effectively than did entacapone. After the 7-day treatment (10 mg/kg twice daily), COMT activity had recovered to a level of 67 to 101% of control within 8 h after the last dose of entacapone. In tolcapone-treated animals, there was still extensive COMT inhibition present in peripheral tissues, and the degree of inhibition was higher than that attained after a single dose. The pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modeling revealed that a plateau of COMT inhibition near the maximal attainable inhibition was reached already by plasma concentrations below 2000 ng/ml, both with entacapone and tolcapone. Entacapone and tolcapone inhibited equally rat liver COMT in vitro with K(i) values of 10.7 and 10.0 nM, respectively. In conclusion, tolcapone has a longer duration of action and a better brain penetration than entacapone. The results also suggest that peripheral COMT is inhibited continuously when tolcapone is dosed at 12-h intervals, but this was not seen with entacapone.


Markus Forsberg, Marko Lehtonen, Minna Heikkinen, Jouko Savolainen, Tomi Järvinen, Pekka T Männistö. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of entacapone and tolcapone after acute and repeated administration: a comparative study in the rat. The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. 2003 Feb;304(2):498-506

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PMID: 12538800

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