Identification of the human liver UDP-glucuronosyltransferase involved in the metabolism of p-ethoxyphenylurea (dulcin)

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Dulcin (DL), now banned, was once a widely used artificial sweetener. DL possesses an ureido group that is metabolized by direct glucuronidation in rabbit liver microsomes. Dulcin N-glucuronide (DNG) is the only type of ureido N-glucuronide known to date; ureido glucuronidation in humans has not been previously reported. Accordingly, the glucuronidation of DL was studied using human liver microsomes (HLM) and expressed human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes. The average Km and Vmax values from nine HLM samples were 2.10 mM and 0.156 nmol/mg/min, respectively. Of the six human UGT isoforms screened for their ability to glucuronidate DL, only UGT1A1 and UGT1A9 showed activity. The apparent Km values using UGT1A1 and UGT1A9 were 5.06 and 6.99 mM, and the apparent Vmax values were 0.0461 and 0.106 nmol/min/mg, respectively. Phenolphthalein, a substrate for UGT1A9, inhibited DL glucuronidation in HLM competitively (Ki = 0.356 mM), but bilirubin, a substrate for UGT1A1, did not. These results suggest that UGT1A9 is a key enzyme catalyzing the glucuronidation of DL.

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