Author(s): Burk O, Arnold KA, Nussler AK, Schaeffeler E, Efimova E,
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Abstract Artemisinin drugs are of utmost importance in the treatment of malaria, because they represent the sole class of therapeutically used antimalarial drugs to which malaria parasites have not yet developed resistance. The major disadvantage of these medicines is the comparatively high recrudescence rate, which has been attributed to the remarkable decrease of artemisinin plasma concentrations during multiple dosing. Autoinduction of CYP2B6-mediated metabolism has been implicated as the underlying mechanism. So far, the molecular mechanism of induction by artemisinin has not been resolved. Because the xenosensors pregnane X receptor (PXR) and constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) have been shown to mediate induction of drug-metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters, we investigated the hypothesis that artemisinin induces cytochrome P450 expression by activating PXR and/or CAR. By combining in vitro transfection methods and quantitative analyses of gene expression in cell lines and primary human hepatocytes, we here show that artemisinin drugs activate human PXR as well as human and mouse CAR and induce the expression of CYP2B6, CYP3A4, and MDR1 in primary human hepatocytes and in the human intestinal cell line LS174T. Furthermore, we demonstrate that artemisinin acts as a ligand of both nuclear receptors, because it modulates the interaction of the receptors with coregulators. In conclusion, activation of PXR and CAR and especially the resulting induction of CYP3A4 and MDR1 demonstrate that artemisinin has a higher risk of potential drug interactions than anticipated previously.
This article was published in Mol Pharmacol
and referenced in Malaria Control & Elimination