Glucuronidation of catechol estrogens by expressed human UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) 1A1, 1A3, and 2B7

Toxicol Sci. 1998 Sep;45(1):52-7. doi: 10.1006/toxs.1998.2494.


Catechol estrogens are major estrogen metabolites in mammals and are the most potent naturally occurring inhibitors of catecholamine metabolism. These estrogen compounds have been implicated in carcinogenic activity and the 4/2-hydroxyestradiol concentration has been shown to be elevated in neoplastic human mammary tissue compared to normal human breast tissue. Three human liver UDP-glucuronosyltransferases, UGT2B7, UGT1A1, and UGT1A3, have been shown to catalyze the glucuronidation of catechol estrogens and lead to their enhanced elimination via urine or bile. The present study was designed to study the kinetic interaction of expressed human UGT2B7(Y) or (H), UGT1A1, and UGT1A3 toward 2- and 4-hydroxycatechol estrogens. cDNAs encoding UGT2B7(Y) or (H), UGT1A1, and UGT1A3 were expressed in HK293 cells, and cell homogenates or membrane preparations were used to determine their glucuronidation ability. UGT2B7(Y) reacted with higher efficiency toward 4-hydroxyestrogenic catechols, whereas UGT1A1 and UGT1A3 showed higher activities toward 2-hydroxyestrogens. UGT2B7(H) catalyzed estrogen catechol glucuronidation with efficiencies similar to UGT2B7(Y). Flunitrazepam (FNZ), a competitive inhibitor of morphine glucuronidation in hepatic microsomes, competitively inhibited catechol estrogen glucuronidation catalyzed by UGT2B7(Y), UGT1A1, and UGT1A3. Buprenorphine, an opioid substrate that reacts at high efficiency with each of these UGTs, was also studied. FNZ competitively inhibited buprenorphine glucuronidation with UGT1A1 and UGT2B7 but had no inhibitory activity toward UGT1A3. This suggests that buprenorphine and 2-hydroxycatechol estrogens react with separate active sites of UGT1A3. A catecholamine, norepinephrine, did not inhibit UGT2B7(Y)-, UGT1A1-, and UGT1A3-catalyzed glucuronidation of catechol estrogens. These results also suggest that drug-endobiotic interactions are possible in humans and may have implication in carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Estradiol / analogs & derivatives
  • Estradiol / metabolism
  • Estrogens, Catechol / metabolism*
  • Flunitrazepam / pharmacology
  • Glucuronates / metabolism*
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyestrones / metabolism
  • Isoenzymes / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • Norepinephrine / pharmacology


  • Estrogens, Catechol
  • Glucuronates
  • Hydroxyestrones
  • Isoenzymes
  • 4-hydroxyestrone
  • Estradiol
  • Flunitrazepam
  • 2-hydroxyestradiol
  • 4-hydroxyestradiol
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • 2-hydroxyestrone
  • Norepinephrine