Glucuronidation and isomerization of all-trans- and 13-cis-retinoic acid by liver microsomes of phenobarbital- or 3-methylcholanthrene-treated rats

Biochem Pharmacol. 1994 Feb 9;47(3):485-92. doi: 10.1016/0006-2952(94)90179-1.


Glucuronidation and isomerization of all-trans-retinoic acid (tr-RA) and 13-cis-retinoic acid (13-cis-RA) were investigated in an in vitro system using liver microsomes of differently pretreated rats. In agreement with their thermodynamic stability, more retinoic acid was isomerized from the 13-cis form to the all-trans form than vice versa. Also some 9-cis-retinoic acid (9-cis-RA) could be found. Isomerization was reduced, but in contrast to glucuronidation was still important if boiled microsomes were used. This supports the view that isomerization can proceed as a non-enzymatic process. 3-Methylcholanthrene (MC) pretreatment of the rats increased the microsomal glucuronidation of 13-cis-RA and tr-RA and the formation of 13-cis-retinoyl-beta-glucuronide was enhanced up to 7-fold by MC-induced rat microsomes. The rates of glucuronidation by uninduced and phenobarbital-induced rat microsomes differed only slightly. In addition to glucuronides of the applied retinoic acid isomers (13-cis-RA and tr-RA), 9-cis-RA and its glucuronide were found. Induction of retinoid glucuronidation by pretreatment with MC indicates that this metabolic reaction is catalysed by a MC-inducible UGT isozyme. After two recently described pathways (conversions of retinol to retinal and of retinyl methyl ether to retinol) this is a third step of retinoid metabolism, induced by pretreatment with MC. With human microsomes no more than traces of glucuronides were detected; also, incubations with human microsomes resulted in a lower degree of isomerization than with rat microsomal fractions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Isomerism
  • Male
  • Methylcholanthrene
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism*
  • Phenobarbital
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tretinoin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Tretinoin / metabolism


  • retinoyl glucuronide
  • Methylcholanthrene
  • Tretinoin
  • Phenobarbital