Glutathione S-transferase, cytochrome P450, and uridine 5'-diphosphate-glucuronosyltransferase in human small intestine and liver

Gastroenterology. 1989 Mar;96(3):783-9.


In humans, data on biotransformation enzymes in the intestine, and to a lesser extent in the liver, are rather scarce. Much knowledge about these enzymes is, therefore, obtained from animal studies. We were able to examine both small intestinal and hepatic tissue from a kidney donor and performed a systematic study on enzyme contents and distribution in these organs. In the small intestine the longitudinal distribution of cytochrome P450, glutathione S-transferase, and bilirubin uridine 5'-diphosphate (UDP)-glucuronosyltransferase declined from duodenum to ileum. Activity of 4-nitrophenol- and 4-methylumbelliferone UDP-glucuronosyltransferase increased or remained constant, respectively. Total and specific activity of most enzymes was much higher in the liver, except for bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase and glutathione S-transferase, where the small intestine contained 28.6% and 7.4% of total hepatic activity, respectively. The relatively great amount of bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity in the small intestinal mucosa of this patient, who probably suffered from Gilbert's syndrome, could indicate that under pathological conditions intestinal metabolism may contribute significantly to the clearance of bilirubin. With a monoclonal antibody, UDP-glucuronosyltransferase isoforms were immunodetectable in microsomes. In the liver, two bands, one of 57 kilodaltons and one in between 53 and 54 kilodaltons, were seen. In the proximal small intestine two isoforms (53 and 54 kilodaltons) were detected. However, in the distal small intestine where bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity was low, only one isoform (54 kilodaltons) was seen. This may indicate that bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity is correlated with the 53-kilodalton isoform. The presence of multiple UDP-glucuronosyltransferase isoforms in humans, similar to that described before in the rat, is further established by this study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / analysis*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / analysis*
  • Glutathione Transferase / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / enzymology
  • Intestine, Small / enzymology*
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • Glutathione Transferase