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Identification of a Novel Intestinal First Pass Metabolic Pathway: NQO1 Mediated Quinone Reduction and Subsequent Glucuronidation

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Quinones represent a very important class of compounds found in nature and for the chemically synthesized drugs. The present study was designed to elucidate the intestinal first pass metabolic pathways in vivo and in vitro, of tanshinone IIA (TS), a derivative of phenanthrene-quinone isolated from Salvia miltiorrhiza. Five metabolites, proposed to be TS catechol glucuronides (two position isomers), dehydrotanshinone IIA and its two catechol glucuronides, were identified from the rat intestinal homogenates after oral administration of TS. TS metabolism was further conducted in the subcellular system including cytosol, microsomes, mitochondrial and S9 under both phase I and phase II metabolic conditions. TS underwent negligible metabolism in all of the subcellular systems under phase I metabolic condition using NADPH as the cofactor. However, significant and substantial metabolic elimination of TS was observed in the cytosol and S9 fractions, while not in the microsomes fractions, when both NADPH and UDPGA were added. Two TS catechol glucuronides were identified from such an in vitro metabolic medium. Dicoumarol, a specific inhibitor of the NAD(P)H dependent quinone oxidoreductase (NQO1), significantly inhibited the metabolic elimination of TS in a noncompetitive way, suggesting that NQO1 was responsible for the quinone reduction of TS to form the catechol intermediate. The catechol intermediate failed to be detected directly was proved to be highly unstable and autoxidized back to TS accompanied with hydrogen peroxide generation. Dicoumarol exhibited a significant inhibitory effect on the hydrogen peroxide generation, further supporting that the reduction of TS was catalyzed by NQO1. The absolute bioavailability of TS was significantly enhanced by oral dicoumarol pretreatment. In conclusion, a novel intestinal metabolic pathway for quinones, NQO1 mediated reduction and subsequent glucuronidation, was determined using TS as a model compound. This study should be helpful for the general understanding of quinones absorption and intestinal first pass metabolism.

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Keywords: Intestinal first pass metabolism; NQO1; glucuronidation; quinines; tanshinone IIA

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Key Lab of Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics E04#, China Pharmaceutical University, 1 Shennong Road, Nanjing 210038, China.

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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  • Current Drug Metabolism aims to cover all the latest and outstanding developments in drug metabolism and disposition. The journal serves as an international forum for the publication of timely reviews in drug metabolism. Current Drug Metabolism is an essential journal for academic, clinical, government and pharmaceutical scientists who wish to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments. The journal covers the following areas:

    In vitro systems including CYP-450; enzyme induction and inhibition; drug-drug interactions and enzyme kinetics; pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics, species scaling and extrapolations; P-glycoprotein and transport carriers; target organ toxicity and interindividual variability; drug metabolism and disposition studies; extrahepatic metabolism; phase I and phase II metabolism; recent developments for the identification of drug metabolites and adducts.
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