Human Efflux Transport of Testosterone, Epitestosterone and Other Androgen Glucuronides.J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2019; :105518JS
Several drug-metabolizing enzymes are known to control androgen homeostasis in humans. UDP-glucuronosyltransferases convert androgens to glucuronide conjugates in the liver and intestine, which enables subsequent elimination of these conjugated androgens via urine. The most important androgen is testosterone, while other important ones are the testosterone metabolites androsterone and etiocholanolone, and the testosterone precursor dehydroepiandrosterone. Epitestosterone is another endogenous androgen, which is included as a crucial marker in urine doping tests. Since glucuronide conjugates are hydrophilic, efflux transporters mediate their excretion from tissues. In this study, we employed the membrane vesicle assay to identify the efflux transporters for glucuronides of androsterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, epitestosterone, etiocholanolone and testosterone. The human hepatic and intestinal transporters MRP2 (ABCC2), MRP3 (ABCC3), MRP4 (ABCC4), BCRP (ABCG2) and MDR1 (ABCB1) were studied in vitro. Of these transporters, only MRP2 and MRP3 transported the androgen glucuronides investigated. In kinetic analyses, MRP3 transported glucuronides of androsterone, epitestosterone and etiocholanolone at low Km values, between 0.4 and 4 µM, while the Km values for glucuronides of testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone were 14 and 51 µM, respectively. MRP2 transported the glucuronides at lower affinity, as indicated by Km values over 100 µM. Interestingly, the MRP2-mediated transport of androsterone and epitestosterone glucuronides was best described by sigmoidal kinetics. The inability of BCRP to transport any of the androgen glucuronides investigated is drastically different from its highly active transport of several estrogen conjugates. Our results explain the transporter mediated disposition of androgen glucuronides in humans, and shed light on differences between the human efflux transporters MRP2, MRP3, MRP4, BCRP and MDR1.