Structure–inhibition relationship of ginsenosides towards UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs)

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Abstract

The wide utilization of ginseng provides the high risk of herb–drug interaction (HDI) with many clinical drugs. The inhibition of ginsenosides towards drug-metabolizing enzymes (DMEs) has been regarded as an important reason for herb–drug interaction (HDI). Compared with the deep studies on the ginsenosides' inhibition towards cytochrome P450 (CYP), the inhibition of ginsenosides towards the important phase II enzymes UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) remains to be unclear. The present study aims to evaluate the inhibition behavior of ginsenosides towards important UGT isoforms located in the liver and intestine using in vitro methods. The recombinant UGT isoform-catalyzed 4-methylumbelliferone (4-MU) glucuronidation reaction was employed as in vitro probe reaction. The results showed that structure-dependent inhibition existed for the inhibition of ginsenosides towards UGT isoforms. To clarify the possibility of in vivo herb–drug interaction induced by this kind of inhibition, the ginsenoside Rg3 was selected as an example, and the inhibition kinetic type and parameters (Ki) were determined. Rg3 competitively inhibited UGT1A7, 2B7 and 2B15-catalyzed 4-MU glucuronidation reaction, and exerted noncompetitive inhibition towards UGT1A8-catalyzed 4-MU glucuronidation. The inhibition parameters (Ki values) were calculated to be 22.6, 7.9, 1.9, and 2.0 μM for UGT1A7, 1A8, 2B7 and 2B15. Using human maximum plasma concentration of Rg3 (400 ng/ml (0.5 μM)) after intramuscular injection of 60 mg Rg3, the area under the plasma concentration-time curve (AUC) was extrapolated to increase by 2.2%, 6.3%, 26.3%, and 25% for the co-administered drugs completely undergoing the metabolism catalyzed by UGT1A7, 1A8, 2B7 and 2B15, respectively. All these results indicated that the ginsenosides' inhibition towards UGT isoforms might be an important reason for ginseng–drug interaction.

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