Validated assay for studying activity profiles of human liver UGTs after drug exposure: inhibition and induction studies

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2010 Mar;396(6):2251-63. doi: 10.1007/s00216-009-3441-1. Epub 2010 Feb 10.


UDP-glucuronsyltransferases (UGTs) are a family of conjugating enzymes that participate in the metabolism of many drugs. The study of potential drug-drug interactions involving UGTs has been largely hindered by the limited availability of selective functional assays for individual UGT enzymes. We propose a sensitive and reproducible procedure for the activity measurements of four major human hepatic UGT forms. The assays are based on analysis and quantification by high-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry of glucuronides formed from selective probe substrates, namely, beta-estradiol (UGT1A1, 3-glucuronide), 1-naphthol (UGT1A6), propofol (UGT1A9), and naloxone (UGT2B7). The analytical methods developed in the present study have been validated under good laboratory practice compliance following FDA recommendations. The assays can be easily applied to both phenotyping UGT reactions in liver-derived cellular and subcellular systems, and drug-drug interaction in vitro studies. Chemical inhibition of UGTs was tested in human liver microsomes at substrate concentrations lower than the corresponding K (M) values. Under these conditions, selective inhibition of UGT2B7 by fluconazole and low amitriptyline concentrations were observed, whereas diclofenac and quinidine were shown as non-enzyme-selective inhibitors of UGTs. Induction of UGTs was studied in primary human hepatocytes and HepG2 cells cultured in 96-well plates. Aryl hydrocarbon receptor ligands (except indirubin in hepatocytes) increased the UGT1A1 activity in both cell models. The highest effects were observed in HepG2 cells exposed to indirubin (21-fold over the control) and omeprazole or beta-naphthoflavone (about sixfold). Although variable effects were observed in other UGT enzymes, the degree of induction was generally lower than that for UGT1A1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Enzyme Activation
  • Enzyme Assays / methods*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / chemistry*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / chemistry
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology*
  • UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase 1A9


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • UGT1A9 protein, human
  • UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, UGT1A6
  • UGT1A1 enzyme
  • UGT2B7 protein, human
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase 1A9