Glucuronidation of 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine catalyzed by human liver UDP-glucuronosyltransferase. Significance of nucleoside hydrophobicity and inhibition by xenobiotics

Biochem Pharmacol. 1991 Jul 15;42(3):559-68. doi: 10.1016/0006-2952(91)90319-z.


The enzymatic glucuronidation of 3'-azido-3'-deoxythymidine (AZT) catalyzed by human liver microsomal UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (EC, UDPGT) was inhibited by a number of nucleoside analogs. The inhibitory potency of these nucleoside analogs correlated with their hydrophobicity (r2 = 0.90, N = 13). Since similar results were obtained with solubilized UDPGT (r2 = 0.87, N = 7), the affinity of the nucleosides for UDPGT was probably being assessed rather than the ability of the compounds to access the membrane-bound enzyme. Three homologous inhibitors, 3'-azido-2',3'-dideoxyuridine (AzddU), 5-ethyl-AzddU, and 5-propyl-AzddU, were also studied as substrates of UDPGT. The substrate efficiency (Vmax/Km) of these three compounds and AZT also correlated with their hydrophobicity (r2 = 0.94). Sixteen drugs that are structurally unrelated to nucleosides also inhibited the glucuronidation of AZT. The mechanism of inhibition was competitive for seven compounds tested. Ki values were estimated from Dixon plots for nine other less soluble inhibitors; their mechanism of inhibition was assumed to be competitive. Since the peak physiological drug concentrations of the tested inhibitors are considerably less than their Ki values, none of these compounds are expected to strongly inhibit AZT glucuronidation in humans. However, the rank order of these drugs with respect to their inhibitory potential is probenecid greater than chrloramphenicol greater than naproxen greater than phenylbutazone much greater than other drugs tested.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Binding, Competitive
  • Chloramphenicol / pharmacology
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism*
  • Morphine / pharmacology
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacology
  • Zidovudine / analogs & derivatives
  • Zidovudine / metabolism*
  • Zidovudine / pharmacokinetics


  • Xenobiotics
  • Zidovudine
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Morphine
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • 3'-azido-2',3'-dideoxyuridine