In vitro inhibition of human liver cytochrome P450 (CYP) and UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes by rose bengal: system-dependent effects on inhibitory potential

Xenobiotica. 2014 Jul;44(7):606-14. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2013.878814. Epub 2014 Jan 10.


1. Rose bengal (4,5,6,7-tetrachloro-2',4',5',7'-tetraiodofluorescein) is being developed for the treatment of cutaneous melanoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. Interestingly, rose bengal can generate singlet oxygen species upon exposure to light. 2. We evaluated rose bengal as an in vitro inhibitor of cytochrome P450 (CYP) or UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes in both human liver microsomes (HLM) and cryopreserved human hepatocytes (CHHs) under both yellow light and dark conditions. 3. Rose bengal directly inhibited CYP3A4/5 and UGT1A6 in HLM under yellow light with inhibitor concentration that causes 50% inhibition (IC50) values of 0.072 and 0.035 μM, respectively; whereas much less inhibition was observed in the dark with the IC50 values increasing 43- and 120-fold, respectively. To determine if a more physiologically-relevant test system could be protected from such an effect, rose bengal was evaluated as an inhibitor of CYP1A2, 2B6, 2C8, 2C9, 2C19, 2D6, 3A4/5 and UGT enzymes in CHH. All IC50 values were similar (64 ± 8 μM) and little to no effect of light on inhibitory potential was observed. 4. Given the IC50 values in CHH increased an order of magnitude compared to HLM and the atypical pharmacokinetics of the drug, the risk of rose bengal to cause clinically relevant drug-drug interactions is likely low, particularly when administered to cancer patients on an intermittent schedule.

Keywords: Cytochrome P450; UGT; hepatocytes; in vitro; microsomes; system-dependent inhibition.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cryopreservation
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical / methods
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inhibitory Concentration 50
  • Light
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology*
  • Rose Bengal / pharmacology*


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Rose Bengal
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • CYP3A5 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • CYP3A4 protein, human
  • UDP-glucuronosyltransferase, UGT1A6
  • Glucuronosyltransferase