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Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2018 Feb;33(1):9-16. doi: 10.1016/j.dmpk.2017.10.002. Epub 2017 Oct 7.

Species differences in drug glucuronidation: Humanized UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1 mice and their application for predicting drug glucuronidation and drug-induced toxicity in humans.

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Department of Pharmaceutics, School of Pharmacy, Kitasato University, 5-9-1 Shirokane, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-8641, Japan. Electronic address:
Division of Health Chemistry, Department of Healthcare and Regulatory Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Showa University, 1-5-8 Hatanodai, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan.
Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology, Department of Pharmacology, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA, USA.


More than 20% of clinically used drugs are glucuronidated by a microsomal enzyme UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT). Inhibition or induction of UGT can result in an increase or decrease in blood drug concentration. To avoid drug-drug interactions and adverse drug reactions in individuals, therefore, it is important to understand whether UGTs are involved in metabolism of drugs and drug candidates. While most of glucuronides are inactive metabolites, acyl-glucuronides that are formed from compounds with a carboxylic acid group can be highly toxic. Animals such as mice and rats are widely used to predict drug metabolism and drug-induced toxicity in humans. However, there are marked species differences in the expression and function of drug-metabolizing enzymes including UGTs. To overcome the species differences, mice in which certain drug-metabolizing enzymes are humanized have been recently developed. Humanized UGT1 (hUGT1) mice were created in 2010 by crossing Ugt1-null mice with human UGT1 transgenic mice in a C57BL/6 background. hUGT1 mice can be promising tools to predict human drug glucuronidation and acyl-glucuronide-associated toxicity. In this review article, studies of drug metabolism and toxicity in the hUGT1 mice are summarized. We further discuss research and strategic directions to advance the understanding of drug glucuronidation in humans.


Drug metabolism; Glucuronidation; Humanized mice; Species difference; Toxicity; UDP-glucuronosyltransferase

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