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Mol Pharmacol. 2002 Sep;62(3):608-17.

Common human UGT1A polymorphisms and the altered metabolism of irinotecan active metabolite 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN-38).

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  • 1Faculty of Pharmacy, Laval University, Quebec, Canada.


7-Ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN-38) is the pharmacologically active metabolite of irinotecan, in addition to being responsible for severe toxicity. Glucuronidation is the main metabolic pathway of SN-38 and has been shown to protect against irinotecan-induced gastrointestinal toxicity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether common polymorphic UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) affects SN-38 glucuronidation. First, kinetic characterization of SN-38-glucuronide (SN-38-G) formation was assessed for all known human UGT1A and UGT2B overexpressed in human embryonic kidney 293 cells. To assess the relative activity of UGT isoenzymes for SN-38, rates of formation of SN-38-G were monitored by liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis and normalized by level of UGT cellular expression. Determination of intrinsic clearances predicts that hepatic UGT1A1 and UGT1A9 and the extrahepatic UGT1A7 are major components in SN-38-G formation, whereas a minor role is suggested for UGT1A6, UGT1A8, and UGT1A10. In support of the involvement of UGT1A9, a strong coefficient of correlation was observed in the glucuronidation of SN-38 and a substrate, mainly glucuronidate, by UGT1A9 (flavopiridol) by human liver microsomes (coefficient of correlation, 0.905; p = 0.002). In vitro functional experiments revealed a negative impact of the UGT1A1 allelic variants. Residual activities of 49, 7, 8, and 11% were observed for UGT1A1*6 (G(71)R), UGT1A1*27 (P(229)Q), UGT1A1*35 (L(233)R), and UGT1A1*7 (Y(486)D), respectively. Common variants of UGT1A7, UGT1A7*3 (N(129)K;R(131)K;W(208)R), and UGT1A7*4 (W(208)R), displayed residual activities of 41 and 28% compared with the UGT1A7*1 allele. Taken together, these data provide the evidence that molecular determinants of irinotecan response may include the UGT1A polymorphisms studied herein and common genetic variants of the hepatic UGT1A9 isoenzyme yet to be described.

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