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FASEB J. 2009 Jan;23(1):224-31. doi: 10.1096/fj.08-114876. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

Intestinal cytochrome P450 3A plays an important role in the regulation of detoxifying systems in the liver.

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  • 1Division of Experimental Therapy, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


CYP3A4 is an important xenobiotic metabolizing enzyme. We previously found that CYP2C55 is highly up-regulated in Cyp3a(-/-) mice. Here, we have further investigated the mechanism of regulation of CYP2C55 and other detoxifying systems in Cyp3a(-/-) mice. Induction studies with prototypical inducers demonstrated an important role for the nuclear receptors PXR and CAR in the up-regulation of CYP2C55. Subsequent diet-switch experiments revealed that food-derived xenobiotics are primarily responsible for the increased induction of CYP2C55, as well as of several other primary detoxifying systems in Cyp3a(-/-) mice. Our data suggest that CYP3A normally metabolizes food-derived activators of PXR and/or CAR, explaining the increased levels of such activators in Cyp3a(-/-) mice and subsequent up-regulation of a range of detoxifying systems. Interestingly, our studies with tissue-specific CYP3A4 transgenic Cyp3a(-/-) mice revealed that not only hepatic but also intestinal expression of CYP3A4 could reduce the hepatic expression of detoxifying systems to near wild-type levels. Apparently, intestinal CYP3A4 can limit the hepatic exposure to food-derived activators of nuclear receptors, thereby regulating the expression of a range of detoxifying systems in the liver. This broad biological effect further emphasizes the importance of intestinal CYP3A activity and could have profound implications for the prediction of drug exposure.

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