Circadian regulation of transporter expression and implications for drug disposition

Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2021 Apr;17(4):425-439. doi: 10.1080/17425255.2021.1868438. Epub 2021 Jan 4.


Introduction: Solute Carrier (SLC) and ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters expressed in the intestine, liver, and kidney determine the absorption, distribution, and excretion of drugs. In addition, most molecular and cellular processes show circadian rhythmicity controlled by circadian clocks that leads to diurnal variations in the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of many drugs and affects their therapeutic efficacy and toxicity.Area covered: This review provides an overview of the current knowledge on the circadian rhythmicity of drug transporters and the molecular mechanisms of their circadian control. Evidence for coupling drug transporters to circadian oscillators and the plausible candidates conveying circadian clock signals to target drug transporters, particularly transcription factors operating as the output of clock genes, is discussed.Expert opinion: The circadian machinery has been demonstrated to interact with the uptake and efflux of various drug transporters. The evidence supports the concept that diurnal changes that affect drug transporters may influence the pharmacokinetics of the drugs. However, more systematic studies are required to better define the timing of pharmacologically important drug transporter regulation and determine tissue- and sex-dependent differences. Finally, the transfer of knowledge based on the results and conclusions obtained primarily from animal models will require careful validation before it is applied to humans.

Keywords: ATP-binding cassette transporters; Drug transport; circadian rhythms; drug elimination; intestine; kidney; liver; solute carriers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Sex Factors
  • Solute Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Solute Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Time Factors


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Solute Carrier Proteins