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Drug Metab Dispos. 2013 Nov;41(11):1906-13. doi: 10.1124/dmd.113.053405. Epub 2013 Aug 21.

The letrozole phase 1 metabolite carbinol as a novel probe drug for UGT2B7.

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Dr. Margarete Fischer-Bosch-Institute of Clinical Pharmacology and University of Tübingen, Stuttgart, Germany (J.C.P., W.S., K.K., H.B., M.S., T.E.M.); Temple University School of Pharmacy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (E.K.); and Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Institute of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, University Hospital, Tübingen, Germany (M.S.).


Carbinol [4,4'-(hydroxymethylene)dibenzonitrile] is the main phase 1 metabolite of letrozole, a nonsteroidal aromatase inhibitor used for endocrine therapy in postmenopausal breast cancer. We elucidated the contribution of UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) isoforms on the glucuronidation of carbinol. Identification of UGT isoforms was performed using a panel of recombinant human UGT enzymes. Kinetic studies were done in recombinant human UGT2B7 and pooled human liver microsomes (HLMs). A liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method was used for detection of metabolites. To assess the impact of UGT2B7*2, we determined the carbinol glucuronidation activity using HLM as well as UGT2B7 protein expression in 148 human livers. Moreover, we analyzed the plasma concentrations of 60 letrozole-treated breast cancer patients. We identified UGT2B7 as the predominant UGT isoform involved in carbinol glucuronidation. In HLMs and recombinant UGT2B7, we determined K(m) values (9.99 and 9.56 µM) and V(max) values (3430 and 2399 pmol/min per milligram of protein), respectively. In the set of 148 human livers, carbinol glucuronidation activity significantly correlated with UGT2B7 protein as determined by Western blotting (r(s) = 0.5088, P < 0.0001). Neither carbinol glucuronidation activity (*1/*1: n = 25, 2434 ± 1018; *1/*2: n = 80, 2356 ± 1372; *2/*2: n = 43, 2251 ± 1421 pmol/min per milligram of protein) nor UGT2B7 protein expression was altered by the UGT2B7*2 genotype. No impact of UGT2B7*2 on plasma levels of carbinol and carbinol-gluc [bis(4-cyanophenyl)methyl hexopyranosiduronic acid] in 60 letrozole-treated patients was found. Taken together, these findings suggest carbinol as a novel in vitro probe substrate for UGT2B7. In vitro and in vivo data suggest a lack of influence of the UGT2B7*2 polymorphism on carbinol glucuronidation.

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