Pharmacogenomics of human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase enzymes

Pharmacogenomics J. 2003;3(3):136-58. doi: 10.1038/sj.tpj.6500171.


UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes comprise a superfamily of key proteins that catalyze the glucuronidation reaction on a wide range of structurally diverse endogenous and exogenous chemicals. Glucuronidation is one of the major phase II drug-metabolizing reactions that contributes to drug biotransformation. This biochemical process is also involved in the protection against environmental toxicants, carcinogens, dietary toxins and participates in the homeostasis of numerous endogenous molecules, including bilirubin, steroid hormones and biliary acids. Over the years, significant progress was made in the field of glucuronidation, especially with regard to the identification of human UGTs, study of their tissue distribution and substrate specificities. More recently, the degree of allelic diversity has also been revealed for several human UGT genes. Some polymorphic UGTs have demonstrated a significant pharmacological impact in addition to being relevant to drug-induced adverse reactions and cancer susceptibility. This review focuses on human UGTs, the description of the nature of polymorphic variations and their functional impact. The pharmacogenomic implication of polymorphic UGTs is presented, more specifically the role of UGT polymorphisms in modifying cancer risk and their impact on individual risk to drug-induced toxicities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics / methods*


  • Glucuronosyltransferase