Identification of human UGT isoforms responsible for glucuronidation of efavirenz and its three hydroxy metabolites

Xenobiotica. 2011 Jun;41(6):437-44. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2011.551849. Epub 2011 Feb 14.


Uridine 5'-diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) involved in the glucuronide formation of efavirenz (EFV) and its three hydroxy metabolites, 8-hydroxyefavirenz (8-OH EFV), 7-hydroxyefavirenz (7-OH EFV), and 8,14-dihydroxyefavirenz (8,14-diOH EFV), were assessed. Among 12 recombinant UGT isoforms tested, only UGT2B7 showed catalytic activity in the formation of EFV-N-glucuronide (EFV-G) as previously reported. On the other hand, almost all UGT isoforms were involved in the glucuronidation of the three hydroxy metabolites, although their relative contribution is unclear. The catalytic activities in the formation of EFV-G by 17 different human liver microsomes exhibit a more than 40-fold inter-individual variability, whereas those of glucuronidation of the three hydroxy metabolites showed almost identical activity. The formation of EFV-G showed a significant correlation (r = 0.920; p < 0.0001) with UGT2B7-catalysed azidothymidine glucuronidation in 17 different human liver microsomes. Furthermore, fluconazole, a known UGT2B7 inhibitor, potently inhibited the formation of EFV-G up to 80%. This suggests that EFV might be a specific UGT2B7 substrate in vitro. This is the first study identifying specific UGT isozymes that glucuronidate EFV and its three hydroxy metabolites. Continued identification and characterisation of these pathways may help reduce adverse effects such as CNS toxicity in EFV therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkynes
  • Benzoxazines / metabolism*
  • Cyclopropanes
  • Glucuronic Acid / metabolism
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors / metabolism*


  • Alkynes
  • Benzoxazines
  • Cyclopropanes
  • Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Glucuronic Acid
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • efavirenz