Pharmacokinetic interplay of phase II metabolism and transport: a theoretical study

J Pharm Sci. 2012 Jan;101(1):381-93. doi: 10.1002/jps.22738. Epub 2011 Sep 8.


Understanding of the interdependence of cytochrome P450 enzymes and P-glycoprotein in disposition of drugs (also termed "transport-metabolism interplay") has been significantly advanced in recent years. However, whether such "interplay" exists between phase II metabolic enzymes and efflux transporters remains largely unknown. The objective of this article is to explore the role of efflux transporters (acting on the phase II metabolites) in disposition of the parent drug in Caco-2 cells, liver, and intestine via simulations utilizing a catenary model (for Caco-2 system) and physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models (for the liver and intestine). In all three models, "transport-metabolism interplay" (i.e., inhibition of metabolite efflux decreases the metabolism) can be observed only when futile recycling (or deconjugation) occurred. Futile recycling appeared to bridge the two processes (i.e., metabolite formation and excretion) and enable the interplay thereof. Without futile recycling, metabolite formation was independent on its downstream process excretion, thus impact of metabolite excretion on its formation was impossible. Moreover, in liver PBPK model with futile recycling, impact of biliary metabolite excretion on the exposure of parent drug [(systemic (reservoir) area under the concentration-time curve (AUC(R1))] was limited; a complete inhibition of efflux resulted in AUC(R1) increases of less than 1-fold only. In intestine PBPK model with futile recycling, even though a complete inhibition of efflux could result in large elevations (e.g., 3.5-6.0-fold) in AUC(R1), an incomplete inhibition of efflux (e.g., with a residual activity of ≥ 20% metabolic clearance) saw negligible increases (<0.9-fold) in AUC(R1). In conclusion, this study presented mechanistic observations of pharmacokinetic interplay between phase II enzymes and efflux transporters. Those studying such "interplay" are encouraged to adequately consider potential consequences of inhibition of efflux transporters in humans.

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Biological Transport
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestines / enzymology
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Metabolic Detoxication, Phase II*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetics*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations