Effects of naturally occurring coumarins on hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes inmice

Heather E. Kleiner, Xiaojun Xia, Junichiro Sonoda, Jun Zhang, Elizabeth Pontius, Jane Abey, Ronald M. Evans, David D. Moore, John DiGiovanni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Cytochromes P450 (P450s) and glutathione S-transferases (GSTs) constitute two important enzyme families involved in carcinogen metabolism. Generally, P450s play activation or detoxifying roles while GSTs act primarily as detoxifying enzymes. We previously demonstrated that oral administration of the linear furanocoumarins, isopimpinellin and imperatorin, modulated P450 and GST activities in various tissues of mice. The purpose of the present study was to compare a broader range of naturally occurring coumarins (simple coumarins, and furanocoumarins of the linear and angular type) for their abilities to modulate hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes when administered orally to mice. We now report that all of the different coumarins tested (coumarin, limettin, auraptene, angelicin, bergamottin, imperatorin and isopimpinellin) induced hepatic GST activities, whereas the linear furanocoumarins possessed the greatest abilities to induce hepatic P450 activities, in particular P450 2B and 3A. In both cases, this corresponded to an increase in protein expression of the enzymes. Induction of P4502B10, 3A11, and 2C9 by xenobiotics often is a result of activation of the pregnane X receptor (PXR) and/or constitutive androstane receptor (CAR). Using a pregnane X receptor reporter system, our results demonstrated that isopimpinellin activated both PXR and its human ortholog SXR by recruiting coactivator SRC-1 in transfected cells. In CAR transfection assays, isopimpinellin counteracted the inhibitory effect of androstanol on full-length mCAR, a Gal4-mCAR ligand-binding domain fusion, and restored coactivator binding. Orally administered isopimpinellin induced hepatic mRNA expression of Cyp2b10, Cyp3a11, and GSTa in CAR(+/+) wild-type mice. In contrast, the induction of Cyp2b10 mRNA by isopimpinellin was attenuated in the CAR(-/-) mice, suggesting that isopimpinellin induces Cyp2b10 via the CAR receptor. Overall, the current data indicate that naturally occurring coumarins have diverse activities in terms of inducing various xenobiotic metabolizing enzymes based on their chemical structure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-350
Number of pages14
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 15 2008


  • Constitutive androstane receptor
  • Coumarins
  • Furanocoumarins
  • P450s
  • Pregnane X receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology


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