Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Cytochrome P450


Bright-red colors in vertebrates are commonly involved in sexual, social, and interspecific signaling [1-8] and are largely produced by ketocarotenoid pigments. In land birds, ketocarotenoids such as astaxanthin are usually metabolically derived via ketolation of dietary yellow carotenoids [9, 10]. However, the molecular basis of this gene-environment mechanism has remained obscure. Here we use the yellowbeak mutation in the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) to investigate the genetic basis of red coloration. Wild-type ketocarotenoids were absent in the beak and tarsus of yellowbeak birds. The yellowbeak mutation mapped to chromosome 8, close to a cluster of cytochrome P450 loci (CYP2J2-like) that are candidates for carotenoid ketolases. The wild-type zebra finch genome was found to have three intact genes in this cluster: CYP2J19A, CYP2J19B, and CYP2J40. In yellowbeak, there are multiple mutations: loss of a complete CYP2J19 gene, a modified remaining CYP2J19 gene (CYP2J19(yb)), and a non-synonymous SNP in CYP2J40. In wild-type birds, CYP2J19 loci are expressed in ketocarotenoid-containing tissues: CYP2J19A only in the retina and CYP2J19B in the beak and tarsus and to a variable extent in the retina. In contrast, expression of CYP2J19(yb) is barely detectable in the beak of yellowbeak birds. CYP2J40 has broad tissue expression and shows no differences between wild-type and yellowbeak. Our results indicate that CYP2J19 genes are strong candidates for the carotenoid ketolase and imply that ketolation occurs in the integument in zebra finches. Since cytochrome P450 enzymes include key detoxification enzymes, our results raise the intriguing possibility that red coloration may be an honest signal of detoxification ability.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Evolution, Chromosome, Cytochrome P450, Zebra Finch


Red yeast rice (RYR) is made by fermenting the yeast Monascus purpureus over rice. It is a source of natural red food colorants, a food garnish and a traditional medication. Results of the current study demonstrated that polar fractions of the RYR preparations contained herbal-drug interaction activity, which if left unremoved, enhanced P-glycoprotein activity and inhibited the major drug metabolizing cytochromes P450, i,e, CYP 1A2, 2C9 and 3A4. The data from Caco-2 cell absorption and animal model studies further demonstrated that the pharmacokinetic modulation effect by RYR preparations containing the polar fractions (“untreated” preparation) was greater than that from RYR preparations with the polar fractions removed (“treated” preparation). The data indicates a potential for herb-drug interactions to be present in RYR commonly sold as nutritional supplements when the polar fractions are not removed and this should be taken into consideration when RYR is consumed with medications, including verapamil.

Concepts: Protein, Pharmacology, Metabolism, Nutrition, Model organism, Cytochrome P450, Red yeast rice, Monascus purpureus


Cytochrome P450 oxidoreductase (POR) is known as the sole electron donor in the metabolism of drugs by cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes in human. However, little is known about the effect of polymorphic variants of POR on drug metabolic activities of CYP3A4 and CYP2B6. In order to better understand the mechanism of the activity of CYPs affected by polymorphic variants of POR, six full-length mutants of POR (e.g., Y181D, A287P, K49N, A115V, S244C and G413S) were designed and then co-expressed with CYP3A4 and CYP2B6 in the baculovirus-Sf9 insect cells to determine their kinetic parameters. Surprisingly, both mutants, Y181D and A287P in POR completely inhibited the CYP3A4 activity with testosterone, while the catalytic activity of CYP2B6 with bupropion was reduced to approximately ~70% of wild-type activity by Y181D and A287P mutations. In addition, the mutant K49N of POR increased the CLint (Vmax/Km) of CYP3A4 up to more than 31% of wild-type, while it reduced the catalytic efficiency of CYP2B6 to 74% of wild-type. Moreover, CLint values of CYP3A4-POR (A115V, G413S) were increased up to 36% and 65% of wild-type respectively. However, there were no appreciable effects observed by the remaining two mutants of POR (i.e., A115V and G413S) on activities of CYP2B6. In conclusion, the extent to which the catalytic activities of CYP were altered did not only depend on the specific POR mutations but also on the isoforms of different CYP redox partners. Thereby, we proposed that the POR-mutant patients should be carefully monitored for the activity of CYP3A4 and CYP2B6 on the prescribed medication.

Concepts: Metabolism, Enzyme, Electrochemistry, Catalysis, Nitrogen, Cytochrome P450, P450-containing systems, Cytochrome P450 reductase


Carfilzomib, an irreversible proteasome inhibitor, has a favorable safety profile and significant antitumor activity in patients with relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma (MM). Here we summarize the clinical pharmacokinetics (PK), metabolism, and drug-drug interaction (DDI) profile of carfilzomib. The PK of carfilzomib, infused over 2-10 minutes, was evaluated in patients with solid tumors or MM. Metabolites of carfilzomib were characterized in patient plasma and urine samples. In vitro drug metabolism and DDI studies were conducted in human liver microsomes and hepatocytes. A clinical DDI study was conducted in patients with solid tumors to evaluate the effect of carfilzomib on CYP3A activity. Plasma concentrations of carfilzomib declined rapidly and in a biphasic manner after intravenous administration. The systemic half-life was short and the systemic clearance rate was higher than hepatic blood flow. Carfilzomib was cleared largely extrahepatically via peptidase cleavage and epoxide hydrolysis. Cytochrome P450-mediated metabolism played a minor role, suggesting that coadministration of P450 inhibitors or inducers is unlikely to change its PK profile. Carfilzomib showed direct and time-dependent inhibition of CYP3A in human liver microsome preparations and exposure to carfilzomib resulted in reductions in CYP3A and 1A2 gene expression in cultured human hepatocytes. However, administration of carfilzomib did not affect the PK of midazolam in patients with solid tumors, and there were no safety signals indicative of potential drug interactions. We conclude that the rapid systemic clearance and short half-life of carfilzomib limit clinically significant DDI.

Concepts: Pharmacology, Cancer, Liver, Glycogen, Cytochrome P450, Proteasome, Drug metabolism, Hepatocyte


Cytochrome P450 side-chain cleavage enzyme (CYP11A1) catalyses the first and rate-limiting step of steroidogenesis, the conversion of cholesterol to pregnenolone. CYP11A1 deficiency is commonly associated with adrenal insufficiency, and in 46,XY individuals, with variable degrees of disorder of sex development (DSD).

Concepts: Testosterone, Cytochrome P450, Steroid, CYP17A1


The disposition of ertugliflozin (PF-04971729), an orally active selective inhibitor of the sodium-dependent glucose cotransporter 2, was studied after a single 25-mg oral dose of [(14)C]-PF-04971729 to healthy human subjects. Mass balance was achieved with approximately 91% of the administered dose recovered in urine and feces. The total administered radioactivity excreted in feces and urine was 40.9% and 50.2%, respectively. The absorption of PF-04971729 in humans was rapid with a T(max) at ~ 1.0 h. Of the total radioactivity excreted in feces and urine, unchanged PF-04971729 collectively accounted for ~ 35.3% of the dose, suggestive of moderate metabolic elimination in humans. The principal biotransformation pathway involved glucuronidation of the glycoside hydroxyl groups to yield three regioisomeric metabolites M4a, M4b and M4c (~39.3% of the dose in urine) of which M4c was the major regioisomer (~31.7% of the dose). The structure of M4a and M4c were confirmed to be PF-04971729-4-O-β- and -3-O-β-glucuronide, respectively, via comparison of the HPLC retention time and mass spectra with authentic standards. A minor metabolic fate involved oxidation by cytochrome P450 to yield monohydroxylated metabolites M1 and M3 and des-ethyl PF-04971729 (M2), which accounted for ~5.2% of the dose in excreta. In plasma, unchanged PF-04971729 and the corresponding 4-O-β- (M4a) and 3-O-β- (M4c) glucuronides were the principal components, which accounted for 49.9, 12.2 and 24.1% of the circulating radioactivity. Overall, these data suggest that PF-04971729 is well absorbed in humans, and eliminated largely via glucuronidation.

Concepts: Alcohol, Metabolism, Nutrition, Cytochrome P450, Steroid, Pharmacokinetics, Carbohydrate, Excretion


Aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2) is a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases related to abnormally high aldosterone levels. On the basis of our previously identified lead compounds I-III, a series of 3-pyridinyl substituted aliphatic cycles were designed, synthesized and tested as CYP11B2 inhibitors. Aromaticity abolishment of the core was successfully applied to overcome the undesired CYP1A2 inhibition. This study resulted in a series of potent and selective CYP11B2 inhibitors, with compound 12 (IC(50) = 21 nM, SF = 50) as the most promising one, which shows no inhibition toward CYP1A2 at 2 µM. The design conception demonstrated in this study can be helpful in the optimization of CYP inhibitor drugs regarding CYP1A2 selectivity.

Concepts: Aldosterone, Cytochrome P450, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Xanthine oxidase inhibitor, Aldosterone synthase, Corticosterone, Zona glomerulosa


BACKGROUND: C-PiB has been developed as a positron-emission tomography (PET) ligand for evaluating fibrillar beta-amyloid (Abeta) in the human brain. The ligand is rapidly metabolized, with approximately 10% of intact tracer remaining 30 min after injection. When 11C-PiB is used as a treatment endpoint in intervention studies for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a concern is whether the clearance of the tracer changes from one scan to the next, increasing within subject variability in the PET signal. Subjects enrolled in AD trials may start or stop medications that inhibit or induce xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes such as the cytochrome P450 (CYP) isozymes. FINDINGS: We conducted CYP phenotyping in recombinantly expressed systems, and in human liver microsomes, to evaluate CYP isozyme contributions to the metabolism of PiB (carrier) and profiled microsomal and hepatocyte incubations for metabolites. The metabolism of PiB appears to be polyzymic, with direct conjugation via UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) also occurring. CONCLUSION: It is unlikely that CYP inhibition or induction will significantly influence the clearance of 11C-PiB.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Ammonia, Metabolism, Glycogen, Cytochrome P450, Enzyme inhibitor, Drug metabolism, Xenobiotic


The fight against diseases spread by mosquitoes and other insects has enormous environmental, economic and social consequences. Chemical insecticides remain the first line of defence but the control of diseases, especially malaria and dengue fever, is being increasingly undermined by insecticide resistance. Mosquitoes have a large repertoire of P450s (over 100 genes). By pinpointing the key enzymes associated with insecticide resistance we can begin to develop new tools to aid the implementation of control interventions and reduce their environmental impact on Earth. Recent technological advances are helping us to build a functional profile of the P450 determinants of insecticide metabolic resistance in mosquitoes. Alongside, the cross-responses of mosquito P450s to insecticides and pollutants are also being investigated. Such research will provide the means to produce diagnostic tools for early detection of P450s linked to resistance. It will also enable the design of new insecticides with optimized efficacy in different environments.

Concepts: Malaria, Insect, Mosquito, Cytochrome P450, Fever, Dengue fever, Vector, Mosquito control


Abuse of the stimulant designer drug methylone (methylenedioxymethcathinone) has been documented in most parts of the world. As with many of the new designer drugs that continuously appear in the illicit drug market, little is known about the pharmacokinetics of methylone. Using in vitro studies, CYP2D6 was determined to be the primary enzyme that metabolizes methylone, with minor contributions from CYP1A2, CYP2B6, and CYP2C19. The major metabolite was identified as dihydroxymethcathinone, and the minor metabolites were N-hydroxy-methylone, nor-methylone, and dihydro-methylone. Measuring the formation of the major metabolite, biphasic Michaelis-Menten kinetic parameters were determined: Vmax,1 = 0.046 ± 0.005 (S.E.) nmol/min/mg protein, Km,1 = 19.0 ± 4.2 μM, Vmax,2 = 0.22 ± 0.04 nmol/min/mg protein, and Km,2 = 1953 ± 761 μM; the low-capacity and high-affinity contribution was assigned to the activity of CYP2D6. Additionally, a time-dependent loss of CYP2D6 activity was observed when the enzyme was preincubated with methylone, reaching a maximum rate of inactivation at high methylone concentrations, indicating that methylone is a mechanism-based inhibitor of CYP2D6. The inactivation parameters were determined to be KI = 15.1 ± 3.4 (S.E) μM and kinact = 0.075 ± 0.005 min(-1).

Concepts: Enzyme kinetics, Metabolism, Cytochrome P450, In vitro, Methamphetamine, MDMA, Designer drug, Methylone