Aims: Raloxifene concentrations were reported to correlate approximately with serum bilirubin levels. Bilirubin is a typical UGT1A1 substrate. Based on these facts, we postulated a hypothesis that UGT1A1 is the key enzyme for metabolic clearance of raloxifene and that the common UGT1A1*28 polymorphism significantly contributes to the large pharmacokinetic variability of raloxifene.
Methods: Serum samples from postmenopausal osteoporotic patients treated with raloxifene were assayed for the concentrations of raloxifene and its glucuronides by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-mass spectrometry. The same samples were also genotyped for the presence of UGT1A1*28 polymorphism by the single-strand conformation polymorphism method. The pharmacodynamic effect was evaluated by measuring the change in bone mineral density (BMD) in femoral neck, hip and lumbar spine after 12 months' raloxifene therapy.
Results: Patients homozygous for the *28 allele showed significantly, twofold higher raloxifene glucuronide concentrations compared with the hetero- and homozygotes for the wild-type allele: 558 +/- 115 nmol l(-1) compared with 295 +/- 43 nmol l(-1), respectively (P = 0.012). This indicates a higher raloxifene exposure in the *28/*28 group. Consequently, a significantly greater increase in hip BMD was observed in subjects homozygous for the *28 allele compared with the group carrying at least one copy of the wild-type allele: 4.4 +/- 2.4% compared with 0.3 +/- 1.4% (P = 0.035).
Conclusions: In this study it is shown that a relatively common UGT1A1*28 polymorphism may considerably influence raloxifene pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Underlying mechanisms and clinical implications of our findings are also discussed.