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Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2006 Oct;6(5):528-32. Epub 2006 Aug 8.

Deconvoluting the effects of P-glycoprotein on intestinal CYP3A: a major challenge.

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  • 1Division of Molecular Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#7360 Kerr Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.


Metabolism by cytochrome P4503A (CYP3A) and P-glycoprotein (P-gp)-mediated efflux are two important biochemical barriers to drug absorption from the intestine. CYP3A, the most important family of drug-metabolizing enzymes, shares many substrates with the efflux transporter P-gp. Although the individual impact of these two systems on drug disposition is routinely assessed, the effect of both systems acting together during intestinal absorption is difficult to ascertain. Pharmacokinetic theory predicts that the effect of efflux on overall metabolism depends on substrate concentrations relative to the respective kinetic parameters of these processes (i.e. affinities for transport and metabolism, as well as the capacities of these processes). Researchers have published conflicting findings on how efflux affects metabolism. Furthermore, the in vitro parameters that have been used to explain or predict this interation are more relevant for describing overall changes in extraction efficiency of the system (intestinal epithelium), rather than deconvoluting the effect of P-gp on CYP3A-mediated metabolism. Developing a more refined way to understand this interplay and its potential relevance to drug absorption is an important goal, as a large proportion of marketed drugs and many modern drug discovery candidates are known to be affected by one or both of these proteins.

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