Warfarin inhibits vitamin K reductase, resulting in depletion of the reduced form of vitamin K (vitamin KH2). As vitamin K is a cofactor for the carboxylation of glutamate residues on the N-terminal regions of vitamin K-dependent proteins, this limits the gamma-carboxylation and subsequent activation of the vitamin K-dependent coagulant proteins. The synthesis of vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors II, VII, IX, and X and anticoagulant proteins C and S is inhibited. Depression of three of the four vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors (factors II, VII, and X) results in decreased prothrombin levels and a decrease in the amount of thrombin generated and bound to fibrin. This reduces the thrombogenicity of clots.
Warfarin, a coumarin anticoagulant, is a racemic mixture of two active isomers. It is used in the prevention and treatment of thromboembolic disease including venous thrombosis, thromboembolism, and pulmonary embolism as well as for the prevention of ischemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).
Metabolized stereo- and regio-selectively by hepatic microsomal enzymes. S-warfarin is predominantly metabolized by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2C9 to yield the 6- and 7-hydroxylated metabolites. R-warfarin is metabolized by CYP1A1, 1A2, and 3A4 to yield 6-, 8-, and 10-hydroxylated metabolites. Hydroxylated metabolites may be further conjugated prior to excretion into bile and urine. UGT1A1 appears to be responsible for producing the 6-O-glucuronide of warfarin, with a possibly contribution from UGT1A10. Five UGT1As may be involved in the formation of 7-O-glucuronide warfarin. S-warfarin has higher potency than R-warfarin and genetic polymorphisms in CYP2C9 may dramatically decrease clearance of and increase toxicity of the medication.
LD50=374 (orally in mice)