Background: Sorafenib, the drug used as first line treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is metabolized by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4-mediated oxidation and uridine diphosphate glucuronosyl transferase (UGT) 1A9-mediated glucuronidation. Liver diseases are associated with reduced CYP and UGT activities, which can considerably affect drug metabolism, leading to drug toxicity. Thus, understanding the metabolism of therapeutic compounds in patients with liver diseases is necessary. However, the metabolism characteristic of sorafenib has not been systematically determined in HCC patients.
Methods: Sorafenib metabolism was tested in the pooled and individual tumor hepatic microsomes (THLMs) and adjacent normal hepatic microsomes (NHLMs) of HCC patients (n = 18). Commercial hepatic microsomes (CHLMs) were used as a control. In addition, CYP3A4 and UGT1A9 protein expression in different tissues were measured by Western blotting.
Results: The mean rates of oxidation and glucuronidation of sorafenib were significantly decreased in the pooled THLMs compared with those in NHLMs and CHLMs. The maximal velocity (Vmax) of sorafenib oxidation and glucuronidation were approximately 25-fold and 2-fold decreased in the pooled THLMs, respectively, with unchanged Km values. The oxidation of sorafenib in individual THLMs sample was significantly decreased (ranging from 7 to 67-fold) than that in corresponding NHLMs sample. The reduction of glucuronidation in THLMs was observed in 15 out of 18 patients' samples. Additionally, the level of CYP3A4 and UGT1A9 expression were both notably decreased in the pooled THLMs.
Conclusions: Sorafenib metabolism was remarkably decreased in THLMs. This result was associated with the down regulation of the protein expression of CYP3A4 and UGT1A9.