The effect and clinical consequences of hypoxia on cytochrome P450, membrane carrier proteins activity and expression

Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2011 Sep;7(9):1083-100. doi: 10.1517/17425255.2011.586630. Epub 2011 May 28.


Introduction: Chronic pulmonary disease and heart failure reduce drug clearance and consequently enhance adverse drug reactions. The mechanisms of action underlying the regulation of cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms and membrane carrier proteins by hypoxia, and the clinical consequences of the regulation of CYP by hypoxia, alone or combined with other conditions have been elucidated in the last decades. Overall, a reduced drug clearance appears to be associated with hypoxemia.

Areas covered: In this review, the mechanisms of action underlying hypoxia-induced regulation of CYP enzymes are discussed. The authors also revise the effects of hypoxia on serum mediators, signal transduction pathways, orphan nuclear receptors, transcription factors and post-transcriptional mechanisms regulating CYP and membrane carrier proteins expression. Additionally, the paper also discusses the clinical repercussions of hypoxia-induced changes in CYP and membrane carrier proteins activity.

Expert opinion: Acute systemic hypoxia down-regulates selected CYP isoforms and up-regulates CYP3A4 and P-glycoprotein, changing the metabolic clearance of drugs and endogenous compounds biotransformed by these isoforms as well as the kinetics. In patients with acute hypoxia, the dosage of drugs, biotransformed by CYP isoforms, may need to be adjusted. Tissue hypoxia enhances the expression of efflux membrane carrier proteins, increasing the probability of drug resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / biosynthesis*
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / genetics
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biotransformation / physiology*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System