O-Glucuronidation of 5-hydroxyrofecoxib is the major biotransformation pathway of rofecoxib in human, rat, and dog. The glucuronide conjugate is also involved in the reversible metabolism of rofecoxib in rat and human. Atypical bimodal phenomena were observed in their plasma concentration-time curves with a large variability among different human subjects. It is unclear which family members of human UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGT) are involved in the formation of the glucuronide. O-Glucuronidation of 5-hydroxyrofecoxib by human liver microsomes and eight cDNA-expressed human UGT isoforms were investigated. Human liver microsomes formed 5-hydroxyrofecoxib glucuronide with apparent V(max) value of 1736 pmol/min/mg of protein and K(m) value of 44.2 microM. Eight individual cDNA-expressed human UGT isozymes (1A1, 1A3, 1A4, 1A6, 1A8, 1A9, 2B7, and 2B15) were evaluated for glucuronidation of 5-hydroxyrofecoxib. Among them UGT2B15 exhibited the highest metabolism rate with apparent V(max) value of 286 pmol/min/mg of protein and K(m) value of 16.1 microM, whereas UGT2B7 showed apparent V(max) value of 47.1 pmol/min/mg of protein and K(m) value of 41.6 microM. These results indicated that human UGT2B15 has the highest level of activity for catalyzing the glucuronidation of 5-hydroxyrofecoxib. Because polymorphisms have been identified in human UGT2B7, 2B15 genes and O-glucuronidation of 5-hydroxyrofecoxib plays a major role in biotransformation of rofecoxib, it is possible that human UGT2B7 and 2B15 polymorphisms for O-glucuronidation of 5-hydroxyrofecoxib are responsible for the high variability in bimodal patterns in human plasma concentration-time curves.
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