UDP-glucuronosyltransferases in human intestinal mucosa

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1998 Nov 2;1394(2-3):199-208. doi: 10.1016/s0005-2760(98)00115-5.


While UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) are known to be expressed at high levels in human liver, relatively little is known about extrahepatic expression. In the present study, UGT2B family isoforms involved in the glucuronidation of steroid hormones and bile acids have been characterized in microsomes prepared from jejunum, ileum and colon from six human subjects. Glucuronidation of androsterone and testosterone was highly significant and increased from proximal to distal intestine. In contrast, hyodeoxycholic acid was glucuronidated at a low level in jejunum and ileum and activity was barely detectable in colon. No significant glucuronidation of lithocholic acid was found. Small phenols were glucuronidated with much lower activity than found in liver. High levels of UGT protein were detected with polyclonal anti-rat androsterone- and testosterone-UGT antibodies, whereas UGT2B4, a major hepatic hyodeoxycholic acid-specific UGT, was undetectable using a highly specific anti-human UGT2B4 antibody. Screening for RNA expression by RT-PCR confirmed the absence of UGT2B4 and UGT1A6 and showed expression of UGT2B7, a hepatic isoform shown to glucuronidate androsterone, in all intestinal segments. To our knowledge, the presence of functional androsterone and testosterone directed isoforms in human intestine is a novel finding which supports the idea that the intestinal tract functions as a steroid-metabolizing organ and plays a significant role in steroid hormone biotransformation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Androsterone / metabolism
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism
  • Child
  • Colon / enzymology
  • Deoxycholic Acid / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucuronates / metabolism
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Ileum / enzymology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / enzymology*
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Jejunum / enzymology
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phenols / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Testosterone / metabolism


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Glucuronates
  • Isoenzymes
  • Phenols
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Deoxycholic Acid
  • Testosterone
  • hyodeoxycholic acid
  • Androsterone
  • Glucuronosyltransferase