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Drug Metab Dispos. 2013 Feb;41(2):406-13. doi: 10.1124/dmd.112.048009. Epub 2012 Nov 16.

Cytochrome P450 regulation by α-tocopherol in Pxr-null and PXR-humanized mice.

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Laboratory of Metabolism, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


The pregnane X receptor (PXR) has been postulated to play a role in the metabolism of α-tocopherol owing to the up-regulation of hepatic cytochrome P450 (P450) 3A in human cell lines and murine models after α-tocopherol treatment. However, in vivo studies confirming the role of PXR in α-tocopherol metabolism in humans presents significant difficulties and has not been performed. PXR-humanized (hPXR), wild-type, and Pxr-null mouse models were used to determine whether α-tocopherol metabolism is influenced by species-specific differences in PXR function in vivo. No significant difference in the concentration of the major α-tocopherol metabolites was observed among the hPXR, wild-type, and Pxr-null mice through mass spectrometry-based metabolomics. Gene expression analysis revealed significantly increased expression of Cyp3a11 as well as several other P450s only in wild-type mice, suggesting species-specificity for α-tocopherol activation of PXR. Luciferase reporter assay confirmed activation of mouse PXR by α-tocopherol. Analysis of the Cyp2c family of genes revealed increased expression of Cyp2c29, Cyp2c37, and Cyp2c55 in wild-type, hPXR, and Pxr-null mice, which suggests PXR-independent induction of Cyp2c gene expression. This study revealed that α-tocopherol is a partial agonist of PXR and that PXR is necessary for Cyp3a induction by α-tocopherol. The implications of a novel role for α-tocopherol in Cyp2c gene regulation are also discussed.

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