College of Pharmacy Faculty Research ​and Publications


In Vitro Cytochrome P450-Mediated Metabolism of Exemestane

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Drug Metabolism and Disposition

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Exemestane is a potent and irreversible steroidal aromatase inhibitor drug used for the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Our aim was to identify and assess the contribution of the specific cytochromes P450 (P450s) responsible for exemestane primary in vitro metabolism. With the use of high-performance liquid chromatography and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analytical techniques, 17-hydroexemestane (MI) formation and 6-hydroxymethylexemestane (MII) formation were found to be the predominant exemestane metabolic pathways. In a bank of 15 well characterized human liver microsomes with known P450 isoform-specific activities, the MI formation rate correlated significantly with CYP1A2 (Spearman r = 0.60, p = 0.02) and CYP4A11 (Spearman r = 0.67, p = 0.01) isoform-specific activities, whereas the MII production rate significantly correlated with CYP2B6 (Spearman r = 0.57, p = 0.03) and CYP3A (Spearman r = 0.76, p = 0.005) isoform-specific activities. Recombinant CYP1A1 metabolized exemestane to MI with a catalytic efficiency (Cl(int)) of 150 nl/pmol P450 × min that was at least 3.5-fold higher than those of other P450s investigated. Recombinant CYP3A4 catalyzed MII formation from exemestane with a catalytic efficiency of 840 nl/pmol P450 × min that was at least 4-fold higher than those of other P450s investigated. Among a panel of 10 chemical inhibitors tested, only ketoconazole and troleandomycin (CYP3A-specific chemical inhibitors) significantly inhibited the formation of MII by 45 and 95%, respectively. None of them markedly inhibited the formation of MI. In summary, exemestane seems to be metabolized to MI by multiple P450s that include CYP4A11 and CYP1A1/2, whereas its oxidation to MII is primarily mediated by CYP3A.

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The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics