Pregnane X receptor and constitutive androstane receptor modulate differently CYP3A-mediated metabolism in early- and late-stage cholestasis

World J Gastroenterol. 2017 Nov 14;23(42):7519-7530. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v23.i42.7519.


Aim: To ascertain whether cholestasis affects the expression of two CYP3A isoforms (CYP3A1 and CYP3A2) and of pregnane X receptor (PXR) and constitutive androstane receptor (CAR).

Methods: Cholestasis was induced by bile duct ligation in 16 male Wistar rats; whereas 8 sham-operated rats were used as controls. Severity of cholestasis was assessed on histological examination of liver sections, and serum concentrations of albumin, AST, ALT, GGT, ALPK and bilirubin. Gene and protein expressions of PXR, CAR, CYP3A1 and CYP3A2 were assessed by means of qRT-PCR and Western blot, respectively. Alterations in CYP3A activity were measured by calculating the kinetic parameters of 4-OH and 1'-OH-midazolam hydroxylation, marker reactions for CYP3A enzymes.

Results: The mRNA and protein expression of CYP3A1 increased significantly in mild cholestasis (P < 0.01). At variance, mRNA and protein expression of CYP3A2 didn't change in mild cholestasis, whereas the expression and activity of both CYP3A1 and CYP3A2 decreased dramatically when cholestasis became severe. Consistently with these observations, the nuclear expression of both PXR and CAR, which was measured because they both translocate into the cell nucleus after their activation, virtually disappeared in the late stage of cholestatic injury, after an initial increase. These results indicate that early- and late-stage cholestasis affects CYP3A-mediated drug metabolism differently, probably as consequence of the different activation of PXR and CAR.

Conclusion: Early- and late-stage cholestasis affects CYP3A-mediated drug metabolism differently. PXR and CAR might be targeted therapeutically to promote CYP3A-mediated liver detoxification.

Keywords: CYP3A; Cholestasis; Constitutive androstane receptor; Drug metabolism; Pregnane X receptor.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholestasis / enzymology*
  • Cholestasis / pathology
  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / metabolism*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Rats, Inbred WKY
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism*


  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Pregnane X Receptor
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Cyp3a2 protein, rat
  • Cyp3a23-3a1 protein, rat
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A