Unmasking the dynamic interplay between intestinal P-glycoprotein and CYP3A4

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2002 Mar;300(3):1036-45. doi: 10.1124/jpet.300.3.1036.


Drug efflux by intestinal P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is known to decrease the oral bioavailability of many CYP3A4 substrates. We hypothesized that the interplay occurring between P-gp and CYP3A4 at the apical membrane would increase the opportunity for drug metabolism. To define the roles of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and CYP3A4 in controlling the extent of intestinal absorption and metabolism, two substrates were tested. The transport, metabolism, and intracellular levels of N-methyl piperazine-Phe-homoPhe-vinylsulfone phenyl (K77, a cysteine protease inhibitor; P-gp and CYP3A4 substrate) and felodipine (CYP3A4 substrate only) were measured across CYP3A4-transfected Caco-2 cells in the presence of an inhibitor of CYP3A4 and P-gp, cyclosporine (CsA), or an inhibitor of P-gp and not CYP3A4, GG918 (N-[4-[2-(1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-6,7- dimethoxy-2-isoquinolinyl)-ethyl]-phenyl]-9,10-dihydro-5-methoxy-9-oxo-4-acridine carboxamine). The extent of metabolism was measured by calculating the extraction ratio (ER) across the cells, while accounting for intracellular changes occurring with P-gp inhibition. The (A)pical to (B)asolateral and B-->A ERs for K77 were 0.33 and 0.06, respectively. These changed with GG918 to 0.14 and 0.12 and with CsA to 0.06 and 0.04. Felodipine ERs were similar in both directions, 0.26 and 0.24 (A-->B and B-->A), and were unchanged in the presence of GG918 but decreased with CsA (0.14 and 0.11). The K77 absorption rate was increased 5 and 4.2-fold in the presence of CsA and GG918, respectively, whereas no change was observed for felodipine absorption. The decreased A-->B ER and increased absorption of K77 with GG918 suggest that P-gp influences the extent of drug metabolism in the intestine via prolonging the access of drugs to CYP3A4 near the apical membrane and decreasing transport across the cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism*
  • Acridines / pharmacology
  • Biological Transport
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Cyclosporine / pharmacology
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Felodipine / analysis
  • Felodipine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Intestines / enzymology
  • Isoquinolines / pharmacology
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / biosynthesis
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Tetrahydroisoquinolines*
  • Transfection


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Acridines
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Isoquinolines
  • Tetrahydroisoquinolines
  • Cyclosporine
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • CYP3A protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human
  • Elacridar
  • Felodipine