Background and purpose: Atorvastatin metabolites differ in their potential for drug interaction because of differential inhibition of drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters. We here investigate whether they exert differential effects on the induction of these genes via activation of pregnane X receptor (PXR) and constitutive androstane receptor (CAR).
Experimental approach: Ligand binding to PXR or CAR was analysed by mammalian two-hybrid assembly and promoter/reporter gene assays. Additionally, surface plasmon resonance was used to analyse ligand binding to CAR. Primary human hepatocytes were treated with atorvastatin metabolites, and mRNA and protein expression of PXR-regulated genes was measured. Two-hybrid co-activator interaction and co-repressor release assays were utilized to elucidate the molecular mechanism of PXR activation.
Key results: All atorvastatin metabolites induced the assembly of PXR and activated CYP3A4 promoter activity. Ligand binding to CAR could not be proven. In primary human hepatocytes, the para-hydroxy metabolite markedly reduced or abolished induction of cytochrome P450 and transporter genes. While significant differences in co-activator recruitment were not observed, para-hydroxy atorvastatin demonstrated only 50% release of co-repressors.
Conclusions and implications: Atorvastatin metabolites are ligands of PXR but not of CAR. Atorvastatin metabolites demonstrate differential induction of PXR target genes, which results from impaired release of co-repressors. Consequently, the properties of drug metabolites have to be taken into account when analysing PXR-dependent induction of drug metabolism and transport. The drug interaction potential of the active metabolite, para-hydroxy atorvastatin, might be lower than that of the parent compound.
© 2011 The Authors. British Journal of Pharmacology © 2011 The British Pharmacological Society.