The induction of CYP1A2, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 by six trade herbal products in cultured primary human hepatocytes

Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2007 Jan;100(1):23-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-7843.2007.00011.x.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the in vitro inductive potential of six commonly used trade herbal products on CYP1A2, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 metabolic activities. Herbal components were extracted from the trade products in a way that ensured a composition equal to that present in the original product. Primary human hepatocytes and specific CYP substrates were used. Classic inducers were used as positive controls and herbal extracts were added in in vivo-relevant concentrations. Metabolites were determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). St. John's wort and common valerian were the strongest inducing herbs. In addition to induction of CYP3A4 by St. John's wort, common valerian and Ginkgo biloba increased the activity of CYP3A4 and 2D6 and CYP1A2 and 2D6, respectively. A general inhibitory potential was observed for horse chestnut, Echinacea purpurea and common sage. St. John's wort inhibited CYP3A4 metabolism at the highest applied concentration. Horse chestnut might be a herb with high inhibition potentials in vivo and should be explored further at lower concentrations. We show for the first time that G. biloba may exert opposite and biphasic effects on CYP1A2 and CYP2D6 metabolism. Induction of CYP1A2 and inhibition of CYP2D6 were found at low concentrations; the opposite was observed at high concentrations. CYP2D6 activity, regarded generally as non-inducible, was increased by exposure to common valerian (linear to dose) and G. biloba (highest concentration). An allosteric activation is suggested. From the data obtained, G. biloba, common valerian and St. John's wort are suggested as candidates for clinically significant CYP interactions in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 / analysis
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2 / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / analysis
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / analysis
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects*
  • Hepatocytes / enzymology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • CYP1A2 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A2
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human