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Mol Biosyst. 2011 Feb;7(2):437-46. doi: 10.1039/c0mb00023j. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

Drug metabolome of the simvastatin formed by human intestinal microbiota in vitro.

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VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, PO Box 1000, Tietotie 2, Espoo, FI-02044 VTT, Finland.


The human colon contains a diverse microbial population which contributes to degradation and metabolism of food components. Drug metabolism in the colon is generally poorly understood. Metabolomics techniques and in vitro colon models are now available which afford detailed characterization of drug metabolites in the context of colon metabolism. The aim of this work was to identify novel drug metabolites of Simvastatin (SV) by using an anaerobic human in vitro colon model at body temperature coupled with systems biology platform, excluding the metabolism of the host liver and intestinal epithelia. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography with a time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC×GC-TOFMS) was used for the metabolomic analysis. Metabolites showing the most significant differences in the active faecal suspension were elucidated in reference with SV fragmentation and compared with controls: inactive suspension or buffer with SV, or with active suspension alone. Finally, time courses of selected metabolites were investigated. Our data suggest that SV is degraded by hydrolytic cleavage of methylbutanoic acid from the SV backbone. Metabolism involves demethylation of dimethylbutanoic acid, hydroxylation/dehydroxylation and β-oxidation resulting in the production of 2-hydroxyisovaleric acid (3-methyl-2-hydroxybutanoic acid), 3-hydroxybutanoic acid and lactic acid (2-hydroxypropanoic acid), and finally re-cyclisation of heptanoic acid (possibly de-esterified and cleaved methylpyranyl arm) to produce cyclohexanecarboxylic acid. Our study elucidates a pathway of colonic microbial metabolism of SV as well as demonstrates the applicability of the in vitro colon model and metabolomics to the discovery of novel drug metabolites from drug response profiles.

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