Identification and characterization of naturally occurring inhibitors against UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 inFructus Psoraleae(Bu-gu-zhi)

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As an edible traditional Chinese herb, Fructus psoraleae (FP) has been widely used in Asia for the treatment of vitiligo, bone fracture and osteoporosis. Several cases on markedly elevated bilirubin and acute liver injury following administration of FP and its related proprietary medicine have been reported, but the mechanism in FP-associated toxicity has not been well investigated yet. This study aimed to investigate the inhibitory effects of FP extract and its major constituents against human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 (UGT1A1), the key enzyme responsible for metabolic elimination of bilirubin. To this end, N-(3-carboxy propyl)-4-hydroxy-1,8-naphthalimide (NCHN), a newly developed specific fluorescent probe for UGT1A1, was used to evaluate the inhibitory effects of FP extract or its fractions in human liver microsomes (HLM), while LC-UV fingerprint and UGT1A1 inhibition profile were combined to identity and characterize the naturally occurring inhibitors of UGT1A1 in FP. Our results demonstrated that both the extract of FP and five major components of FP displayed evident inhibitory effects on UGT1A1 in HLM. Among these five identified naturally occurring inhibitors, bavachin and corylifol A were found to be strong inhibitors of UGT1A1 with the inhibition kinetic parameters (Ki) values lower than 1 μM, while neobavaisoflavone, isobavachalcone, and bavachinin displayed moderate inhibitory effects against UGT1A1 in HLM, with the Ki values ranging from 1.61 to 9.86 μM. These findings suggested that FP contains natural compounds with potent inhibitory effects against human UGT1A1, which may be one of the important reasons for triggering FP-associated toxicity, including elevated bilirubin levels and liver injury.Graphical abstractLC-UV fingerprint and UGT1A1 inhibition profiles were combined to identity and characterize the natural inhibitors of UGT1A1 in F. psoraleae for the first time. Five major components in F. psoraleae were identified as strong inhibitors against UGT1A1 in human liver microsomes, with the Ki values ranging from 1.18–9.86 μM.HighlightsA method for rapid identification of UGT1A1 inhibitors from herbals was developed.Fructus psoraleae (FP) extract displayed strong inhibitory effects on UGT1A1.Five UGT1A1 inhibitory constituents in FP were identified for the first time.The inhibition mechanism and the inhibition constant were well-characterized.

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