Human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B7 (UGT2B7) is one of the major isoforms involved in the glucuronidation of endogenous compounds and xenobiotics. This isoform is the only human UGT shown to glucuronidate retinoids and their oxidized derivatives. In this study, the effects of all-trans retinoic acid (atRA), 9-cis RA, and the RAR agonist TTNPB, on UGT2B7 and UGT2B15 mRNA expression in Caco-2 cells have been examined. Each of these retinoids significantly suppressed UGT2B7 mRNA expression in a concentration-dependent manner with IC50 values of 3.5, 0.3, and 0.2 microM, respectively. However, no inhibition was observed when two other UGTs, UGT2B15 or -1A6, were exposed to atRA, 9-cis RA, or TTNPB, demonstrating that the inhibitory effect of retinoids might be specific for the UGT2B7 isoform. Further, experiments with oxidized atRA derivatives, 4-OH-atRA, 4-oxo-atRA, and 5,6-epoxy-atRA showed that these RA degradation products have no inhibitory effect on UGT2B7 mRNA expression. These data lead us to hypothesize that biologically active forms of RA suppress the expression of UGT2B7 in intestinal cells. This information provides a new pathway by which retinoids may enhance their own toxicity when accumulated in the body at pharmacological concentrations by down-regulating the enzymes involved in their biotransformation into soluble derivatives.