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Oncogene. 2007 Jan 11;26(2):258-68. Epub 2006 Jul 3.

Inhibition of drug metabolism by blocking the activation of nuclear receptors by ketoconazole.

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Albert Einstein Cancer Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY 10461, USA.


Individual variation in drug metabolism is a major cause of unpredictable side effects during therapy. Drug metabolism is controlled by a class of orphan nuclear receptors (NRs), which regulate expression of genes such as CYP (cytochrome)3A4 and MDR-1 (multi-drug resistance-1), that are involved in this process. We have found that xenobiotic-mediated induction of CYP3A4 and MDR-1 gene transcription was inhibited by ketoconazole, a commonly used antifungal drug. Ketoconazole mediated its effect by inhibiting the activation of NRs, human pregnenolone X receptor and constitutive androstene receptor, involved in regulation of CYP3A4 and MDR-1. The effect of ketoconazole was specific to the group of NRs that control xenobiotic metabolism. Ketoconazole disrupted the interaction of the xenobiotic receptor PXR with the co-activator steroid receptor co-activator-1. Ketoconazole treatment resulted in delayed metabolism of tribromoethanol anesthetic in mice, which was correlated to the inhibition of PXR activation and downmodulation of cyp3a11 and mdr-1 genes and proteins. These studies demonstrate for the first time that ketoconazole represses the coordinated activation of genes involved in drug metabolism, by blocking activation of a specific subset of NRs. Our results suggest that ketoconazole can be used as a pan-antagonist of NRs involved in xenobiotic metabolism in vivo, which may lead to novel strategies that improve drug effect and tolerance.

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