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Free Radic Biol Med. 2007 Feb 1;42(3):315-25. Epub 2006 Oct 11.

Modulation of pregnane X receptor- and electrophile responsive element-mediated gene expression by dietary polyphenolic compounds.

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German Institute of Human Nutrition, Potsdam-Rehbrücke, Arthur-Scheunert-Allee 114-116, D-14558 Nuthetal, Germany.


Based on animal models, dietary polyphenols are predicted to be promising chemopreventive agents in humans. Allspice, clove, and thyme extracts as well as defined dietary polyphenolic compounds were, therefore, tested for their ability to activate mechanisms related to phase 1 enzymes, i.e., the PXR-regulated CYP3A4 promoter, and phase 2 enzymes, i.e. the EpRE-regulated promoters of gastrointestinal glutathione peroxidase (GI-GPx) and heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), examples of Nrf2-regulated genes. From the compounds tested, clove and thyme extracts as well as curcumin and resveratrol activated the PXR. PXR activation correlated with the activation of the CYP3A4 promoter in the case of thyme extract, curcumin, and resveratrol, but not in the case of clove extract. Allspice extract, EGCG, and quercetin did not activate PXR but enhanced CYP3A4 promoter activity. Thyme extract and quercetin activated the EpRE of HO-1. Both significantly activated the GI-GPx promoter, effects that depended on a functional EpRE. Resveratrol did not activate the isolated EpRE but enhanced the GI-GPx promoter activity, whereas clove extract even inhibited it. It is concluded that individual polyphenols as well as polyphenol-rich plant extracts may affect phase 1 and 2 enzyme expression by distinct mechanisms that must be elucidated, before potential health effects can reliably be predicted.

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