Expression of UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) 2B7 and 1A6 in the human brain and identification of 5-hydroxytryptamine as a substrate

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1999 May 1;365(1):156-62. doi: 10.1006/abbi.1999.1155.


The extrahepatic expression of UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) is important in the detoxification of a number of endogenous and exogenous compounds, including 5-hydroxytryptamine and morphine. Studies were designed to investigate the extrahepatic expression of human UGTs using RT-PCR techniques and to determine the UGTs involved in the glucuronidation of 5-hydroxytryptamine. Human UGT2B7 expression was found in the human liver, kidney, pancreas, and brain, while UGT1A6 expression is found in the liver, kidney, and brain. This is the first observation of UGTs present in the human central nervous system. Using glucuronidation assays, a significant amount of 5-hydroxytryptamine glucuronide was found to be catalyzed by UGT1A6. These studies suggest that UGT2B7 may play an important role in the overall contribution of morphine analgesia by serving to generate the potent morphine-6-O-glucuronide in situ. UGT1A6 could play an important role in the glucuronidation of 5-hydroxytryptamine in vivo, therefore terminating the actions of the neurotransmitter.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analgesia
  • Brain / enzymology*
  • DNA Primers
  • Fetus
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / isolation & purification
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • Morphine / metabolism*
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Morphine Derivatives / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / isolation & purification
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Serotonin / metabolism*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution


  • DNA Primers
  • Morphine Derivatives
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Serotonin
  • morphine-6-glucuronide
  • Morphine
  • UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, UGT1A6
  • Glucuronosyltransferase