Drug-Drug Interaction between Oxycodone and Diazepam by a Combined in Silico Pharmacokinetic and Pharmacodynamic Modeling Approach

Beihong Ji, Ying Xue, Yuanyuan Xu, Shuhan Liu, Albert H. Gough, Xiang Qun Xie, Junmei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Opioids and benzodiazepines have complex drug-drug interactions (DDIs), which serve as an important source of adverse drug effects. In this work, we predicted the DDI between oxycodone (OXY) and diazepam (DZP) in the human body by applying in silico pharmacokinetic (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) modeling and simulation. First, we studied the PK interaction between OXY and DZP with a physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) model. Second, we applied molecular modeling techniques including molecular docking, molecular dynamics (MD) simulation, and the molecular mechanics/Poisson-Boltzmann surface area (MM-PBSA) free energy method to predict the PD-DDI between these two drugs. The PK interaction between OXY and DZP predicted by the PBPK model was not obvious. No significant interaction was observed between the two drugs at normal doses, though very high doses of DZP demonstrated a non-negligible inhibitory effect on OXY metabolism. On the contrary, the molecular modeling study shows that DZP has potential to compete with OXY at the same binding pocket of the active μ-opioid receptor (MOR) and κ-opioid receptor (KOR). MD simulation and MM-PBSA calculation results demonstrated that there is likely a synergetic effect between OXY and DZP binding to opioid receptors, as OXY is likely to target the active MOR while DZP selectively binds to the active KOR. Thus, pharmacokinetics contributes slightly to the DDI between OXY and DZP although an overdose of DZP has been brought to attention. Pharmacodynamics is likely to play a more important role than pharmacokinetics in revealing the mechanism of DDI between OXY and DZP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1777-1790
Number of pages14
JournalACS Chemical Neuroscience
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 19 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • MD simulations
  • Oxycodone
  • diazepam
  • drug-drug interaction (DDI)
  • molecular docking
  • pharmacodynamic-DDI
  • pharmacokinetic-DDI
  • physiologically based pharmacokinetics (PBPK)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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