Carboxylesterases - Detoxifying Enzymes and Targets for Drug Therapy

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Abstract:

Carboxylesterases (CE) are ubiquitous enzymes responsible for the detoxification of xenobiotics. Many therapeutically useful drugs are metabolized by these proteins which impacts upon the efficiency of drug treatment. In some instances, CEs convert inactive prodrugs to active metabolites, a process that is essential for biological activity. Such compounds include the anticancer agents CPT-11 (3) and capecitabine (4), the antibiotics Ceftin (9) and Vantin, as well as the illicit street drug heroin (6). However, more commonly, CEs hydrolyze many esterified drugs to inactive products that are then excreted. Agents such as flestolol (11), meperidine (5), lidocaine (8) and cocaine (7), are all hydrolyzed and inactivated by these enzymes. Therefore the efficacy of esterified drugs will be dependent upon the distribution and catalytic activity of different CEs. In this review, we examine the structural aspects of CEs and their roles in drug detoxification and propose that modulation of CE activity may allow for improvements in, and potentiation of, drug efficacy.

Keywords: Carboxylesterase; drug metabolism; enzyme structure; inhibitor

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2174/092986706776360969

Affiliations: Department of Molecular Pharmacology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 332 N. Lauderdale, Memphis, TN 38105-2794, USA.

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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