During pharmacotherapy, knowledge about the actual drug and metabolite concentrations in plasma is often critical. Individual dose adjustments can be performed based on pre-emptive genotyping of certain absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion (ADME) genes but also using therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM). Analyses of liquid biopsies for tumor-derived components are well-established and have been found to be a good complement to biopsy examinations. Recently, liquid biopsy-based quantification of cell-free RNA (cfRNA) in plasma exosomes was proposed as a proxy measurement for the expression of different hepatic ADME genes and for the rate of drug metabolism, constituting an alternative to TDM. In this study, we validated these findings by examining the correlation between mRNA expression of eight different CYP genes in liver and the corresponding rate of enzyme-specific drug metabolism in 96 donor-matched liver samples. Analyses of CYP-dependent drug metabolism in liver microsomes in comparison to the level of mRNA expression for the different CYP genes revealed a mean Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.28. The highest correlations (0.33-0.34) were obtained for CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 and the weakest correlations were observed for CYP1A2 and CYP2B6 (0.18-0.21). In all cases, the correlations obtained were too weak to demonstrate a predictive relationship, likely due to different regulatory and post-translational events controlling the rate of enzyme activity. Our results reinforce the notion that, whilst liquid biopsy-based approaches might have utility for prediction of hepatic CYP protein expression, they are not currently an important substitute for TDM.
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