Characterization of 17-dihydroexemestane glucuronidation: Potential role of the UGT2B17 deletion in exemestane pharmacogenetics

Dongxiao Sun, Gang Chen, Ryan W. Dellinger, Arun K. Sharma, Philip Lazarus

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OBJECTIVE: Exemestane is a third-generation aromatase inhibitor used in the treatment of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Reduction to form 17-dihydroexemestane and subsequent glucuronidation to exemestane-17-O- glucuronide is a major pathway for exemestane metabolism. The goal of this study was to analyze 17-dihydroexemestane anti-aromatase activity, characterize the 17-dihydroexemestane glucuronidation pathway, and determine whether the functional polymorphisms in active UGTs could play a role in altered 17-dihydroexemestane glucuronidation. METHODS: Homogenates from a HEK293 aromatase-overexpressing cell line (HEK293-aro) were used to examine exemestane versus 17-dihydroexemestane anti-aromatase activities. UGT-overexpressing cell lines and a panel (n=110) of human liver microsome (HLM) were screened for glucuronidation activity against 17-dihydroexemestane. UGT2B17 genotyping and liver mRNA expression were performed by real-time PCR. RESULTS: The inhibition of estrone formation from androst-4-ene-3,17-dione in HEK293-aro cell homogenates was similar for 17-dihydroexemestane (IC50=2.3±0.83μmol/l) and exemestane (IC50=1.4±0.42μmol/l). UGTs 2B17 and 1A4 were high-expression hepatic UGTs that exhibited activity against 17-dihydroexemestane, with UGT2B17 exhibiting a 17-fold higher Vmax/KM than UGT1A4. The rate of exemestane-17-O-glucuronide formation was shown to be significantly (P<0.001) decreased (14-fold) in HLMs exhibiting the UGT2B17(*2/*2) deletion genotype versus wild-type UGT2B17(*1/*1) HLMs; a 36-fold lower Vmax/KM (P=0.023) was observed in UGT2B17(*2/*2) versus UGT2B17(*1/*1) HLMs. A significant (P<0.0001, R=0.72) correlation was observed between HLM exemestane-17-O-glucuronide formation and liver UGT2B17 expression. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that 17-dihydroexemestane is an active metabolite of exemestane and that the UGT2B17 deletion polymorphism could play an important role in determining levels of excretion of 17-dihydroexemestane and overall exemestane metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)575-585
Number of pages11
JournalPharmacogenetics and Genomics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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