Morphine is an important drug used to alleviate moderate to severe pain. This opiate is mainly metabolized by glucuronidation to a non-analgesic metabolite, morphine-3-glucuronide (M-3-G) and an active metabolite morphine-6-glucuronide (M-6-G). To understand the modulation of morphine glucuronidation activity by environmental factors, the effect of endogenous and food-derived compounds on morphine uridine 5′-diphosphate (UDP)-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) in rat and human microsomes was evaluated examining the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50). The liver microsomes from Sprague-Dawley rats (RLM) and humans (HLM, 150 donors, pooled microsomes) were used as enzyme sources. Of 27 compounds tested, monoterpenoid alcohols, such as borneol and iso-borneol, exhibited a strong inhibitory effect on morphine glucuronidation in rat liver microsomes (RLM), whereas we failed to detect any inhibitory effect of endogenous substances including amino acids and sugars. The substances which have the ability to inhibit the activity in RLM are also inhibitory toward morphine glucuronidation in HLM and UGT2B7 baculosomes. However, the difference was that while the strongest inhibitory effect was observed for iso-menthol in HLM, borneol was the strongest inhibitor of the activity mediated by RLM. Although zidovudine is a typical substrate of UGT2B7, the inhibition of morphine glucuronidation by zidovudine was far weaker than that of monoterpenoid alcohols. These results demonstrate that dietary and supplementary monoterpenoid alcohols modify the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of morphine through inhibition of UGT2B7.
2012 The Pharmaceutical Society of Japan