Amiodarone and its desethyl metabolite: tissue distribution and morphologic changes during long-term therapy.
The pharmacokinetic characteristics of amiodarone suggest extensive tissue deposition. We confirmed this by measuring tissue concentrations of the drug and of its major metabolite, desethylamiodarone, in human tissues. These were obtained at autopsy (n = 9), surgery (n = 7), or biopsy (n = 2) from 18 patients who had been treated with amiodarone for varying periods of time. High concentrations of amiodarone were found in fat (316 mg/kg wet weight in autopsy specimens, 344 mg/kg wet weight in biopsy specimens). Amiodarone and desethylamiodarone concentrations (mg/kg wet weight, autopsy samples) were also high in liver (391 and 2354), lung (198 and 952), adrenal gland (137 and 437), testis (89 and 470), and lymph node (83 and 316). We also found high concentrations of amiodarone (306 mg/kg wet weight) and desethylamiodarone (943 mg/kg wet weight) in abnormally pigmented ("blue") skin from patients with amiodarone-induced skin pigmentation. These values were 10-fold higher than those in unpigmented skin from the same patients. These high concentrations were associated with lysosomal inclusion bodies in dermal macrophages in the pigmented skin. The inclusion bodies were intrinsically electron dense and were shown to contain iodine by energy dispersive x-ray microanalysis. Lysosomal inclusion bodies shown by electron microscopy to be multilamellar were seen in other tissues. These tissues included terminal nerve fibers in pigmented skin, pulmonary macrophages, blood neutrophils, and hepatocytes and Kupffer cells. These characteristic ultrastructural findings occur in both genetic lipidoses and lipidoses induced by other drugs, e.g., perhexiline. We conclude that during therapy with amiodarone, widespread deposition of amiodarone and desethylamiodarone occurs. This leads to ultrastructural changes typical of a lipidosis. These changes are seen clearly in tissues associated with the unwanted effects of amiodarone, e.g., skin, liver and lung.
- Copyright © 1985 by American Heart Association