Warfarin acts by inhibiting the synthesis of vitamin K-dependent clotting factors, which include Factors II, VII, IX, and X, and the anticoagulant proteins C and S. Vitamin K is an essential cofactor for the post ribosomal synthesis of the vitamin K-dependent clotting factors. Vitamin K promotes the biosynthesis of γ-carboxyglutamic acid residues in the proteins that are essential for biological activity. Warfarin is thought to interfere with clotting factor synthesis by inhibition of the C1 subunit of vitamin K epoxide reductase (VKORC1) enzyme complex, thereby reducing the regeneration of vitamin K 1 epoxide [ see Clinical Pharmacology (12.5)].
An anticoagulation effect generally occurs within 24 hours after warfarin administration. However, peak anticoagulant effect may be delayed 72 to 96 hours. The duration of action of a single dose of racemic warfarin is 2 to 5 days. The effects of warfarin sodium may become more pronounced as effects of daily maintenance doses overlap. This is consistent with the half-lives of the affected vitamin K-dependent clotting factors and anticoagulation proteins: Factor II — 60 hours, VII — 4 to 6 hours, IX — 24 hours, X — 48 to 72 hours, and proteins C and S are approximately 8 hours and 30 hours, respectively.
Warfarin sodium is a racemic mixture of the R — and S -enantiomers of warfarin. The S -enantiomer exhibits 2 to 5 times more anticoagulant activity than the R -enantiomer in humans, but generally has a more rapid clearance.
Warfarin is essentially completely absorbed after oral administration, with peak concentration generally attained within the first 4 hours.
Warfarin shows a volume of distribution of about 0.14 L/kg. Approximately 99% of the drug is bound to plasma proteins.
The elimination of warfarin is almost entirely by metabolism. Warfarin is stereoselectively metabolized by hepatic cytochrome P-450 (CYP450) microsomal enzymes to inactive hydroxylated metabolites (predominant route) and by reductases to reduced metabolites (warfarin alcohols) with minimal anticoagulant activity. Identified metabolites of warfarin include dehydrowarfarin, two diastereoisomer alcohols, and 4′-, 6-, 7-, 8-, and 10- hydroxywarfarin. The CYP450 isozymes involved in the metabolism of warfarin include CYP2C9, 2C19, 2C8, 2C18, 1A2, and 3A4. CYP2C9, a polymorphic enzyme, is likely to be the principal form of human liver CYP450 that modulates the in vivo anticoagulant activity of warfarin. Patients with one or more variant CYP2C9 alleles have decreased S-warfarin clearance [ see Clinical Pharmacology (12.5)].
The terminal half-life of warfarin after a single dose is approximately 1 week; however, the effective half-life ranges from 20 to 60 hours, with a mean of about 40 hours. The clearance of R-warfarin is generally half that of S-warfarin, thus as the volumes of distribution are similar, the half-life of R-warfarin is longer than that of S-warfarin. The half-life of R-warfarin ranges from 37 to 89 hours, while that of S-warfarin ranges from 21 to 43 hours. Studies with radiolabeled drug have demonstrated that up to 92% of the orally administered dose is recovered in urine. Very little warfarin is excreted unchanged in urine. Urinary excretion is in the form of metabolites.
Patients 60 years or older appear to exhibit greater than expected INR response to the anticoagulant effects of warfarin. The cause of the increased sensitivity to the anticoagulant effects of warfarin in this age group is unknown but may be due to a combination of pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic factors. Limited information suggests there is no difference in the clearance of S-warfarin; however, there may be a slight decrease in the clearance of R-warfarin in the elderly as compared to the young. Therefore, as patient age increases, a lower dose of warfarin is usually required to produce a therapeutic level of anticoagulation [ see Dosage and Administration (2.3, 2.4)].
Asian patients may require lower initiation and maintenance doses of warfarin. A non-controlled study of 151 Chinese outpatients stabilized on warfarin for various indications reported a mean daily warfarin requirement of 3.3 ± 1.4 mg to achieve an INR of 2 to 2.5. Patient age was the most important determinant of warfarin requirement in these patients, with a progressively lower warfarin requirement with increasing age.
CYP2C9 and VKORC1 Polymorphisms
The S -enantiomer of warfarin is mainly metabolized to 7-hydroxywarfarin by CYP2C9, a polymorphic enzyme. The variant alleles, CYP2C9*2 and CYP2C9*3, result in decreased in vitro CYP2C9 enzymatic 7-hydroxylation of S-warfarin. The frequencies of these alleles in Caucasians are approximately 11% and 7% for CYP2C9*2 and CYP2C9*3, respectively.
Other CYP2C9 alleles associated with reduced enzymatic activity occur at lower frequencies, including *5, *6, and *11 alleles in populations of African ancestry and *5, *9, and *11 alleles in Caucasians.
Warfarin reduces the regeneration of vitamin K from vitamin K epoxide in the vitamin K cycle through inhibition of VKOR, a multiprotein enzyme complex. Certain single nucleotide polymorphisms in the VKORC1 gene (e.g., –1639G>A) have been associated with variable warfarin dose requirements. VKORC1 and CYP2C9 gene variants generally explain the largest proportion of known variability in warfarin dose requirements.
CYP2C9 and VKORC1 genotype information, when available, can assist in selection of the initial dose of warfarin [ see Dosage and Administration (2.3)].
Carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, or fertility studies have not been performed with warfarin.
In five prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trials involving 3711 patients with non-rheumatic AF, warfarin significantly reduced the risk of systemic thromboembolism including stroke (see Table 4). The risk reduction ranged from 60% to 86% in all except one trial (CAFA: 45%), which was stopped early due to published positive results from two of these trials. The incidence of major bleeding in these trials ranged from 0.6% to 2.7% (see Table 4).
|N||Thromboembolism||% Major Bleeding|
|*All study results of warfarin vs. control are based on intention-to-treat analysis and include ischemic stroke and systemic thromboembolism, excluding hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic attacks.|
|Study||Warfarin-Treated Patients||Control Patients||PT Ratio||INR||% Risk Reduction||p -value||Warfarin-Treated Patients||Control Patients|
|AFASAK||335||336||1.5 to 2.0||2.8 to 4.2||60||0.027||0.6||0.0|
|SPAF||210||211||1.3 to 1.8||2.0 to 4.5||67||0.01||1.9||1.9|
|BAATAF||212||208||1.2 to 1.5||1.5 to 2.7||86||<0.05||0.9||0.5|
|CAFA||187||191||1.3 to 1.6||2.0 to 3.0||45||0.25||2.7||0.5|
|SPINAF||260||265||1.2 to 1.5||1.4 to 2.8||79||0.001||2.3||1.5|
Trials in patients with both AF and mitral stenosis suggest a benefit from anticoagulation with warfarin sodium [ see Dosage and Administration (2.2)].
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