UGT-mediated metabolism plays a dominant role in the pharmacokinetic behavior and the disposition of morusinin vivoandin vitro

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Morusin is a prenylated flavone isolated from mulberry, the branch and root bark of various Morus species, which possesses diverse pharmacological activities. However, it lacks extensive studies about its absorption and disposition. This study investigated the pharmacokinetic behavior of morusin in rat, and its first-pass metabolism in situ. The metabolic pathway of morusin was further investigated by 12 human recombinant UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs), 9 CYP450s, as well as liver and intestinal microsomes. Four mono-glucuronide metabolites (M-5-G, M-4′-G, M-2′-G, and MII-2) were identified in rat intestine and bile by LC–MS/MS, while three of them were also detected in plasma (M-5-G, M-4′-G, and MII-2). M-4′-G was the principal conjugate. However, few CYP450 metabolites were found in rat intestine and bile. Only a small amount of MI-1 could be detected in rat plasma. UGT1A1, 1A3, 1A7, and 2B7 were the major contributors to morusin glucuronidation. Morusin exhibited substrate inhibition kinetic characteristics in all UGTs. Clearance rates of M-4′-G in HLM, RLM, UGT1A1, UGT1A3, and UGT2B7 were 137.02, 127.55, 32.54, 41.18, and 35.07ml/min/mg, respectively. Besides, CYP3A5, 3A4, and 2C19 primarily contributed to the oxidative metabolism of morusin. The pharmacokinetic curves of morusin and its conjugates presented double peaks, showing that an enterohepatic recycling may exist. In conclusion, glucuronidation was confirmed to be the crucial metabolic pathway for morusin in vivo, and M-4′-G was the main metabolite.

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