Thomas M, Burk O, Klumpp B, Kandel BA, Damm G, Weiss TS, Klein K, Schwab M, Zanger UM
The nuclear receptor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)α is primarily known as a regulator of fatty acid metabolism, energy balance, and inflammation, but there is evidence suggesting a wider role in regulating biotransformation of drugs and other lipophilic chemicals. We investigated whether PPARα directly regulates the transcription of cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4, the major human drug metabolizing enzyme. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation in human primary hepatocytes as well as electrophoretic mobility shift and luciferase reporter-gene assays we identified three functional PPARα-binding regions (PBR)-I, II, III within ~12kb of CYP3A4 upstream sequence. Furthermore, a humanized CYP3A4/3A7 mouse model showed in vivo induction of CYP3A4 mRNA and protein by WY14,643 in liver but not in intestine, while hepatic occupancy of PBRs by PPARα was ligand-independent. Using lentiviral gene knock-down and treatment with WY14,643 in primary human hepatocytes, PPARα was further shown to affect the expression of a distinct set of CYPs including 1A1, 1A2, 2B6, 2C8, 3A4, and 7A1, but not 2C9, 2C19, 2D6 or 2E1. Interestingly, the common phospholipid 1-palmitoyl-2-oleoyl-sn-glycerol-3-phosphocholine (POPC, 16:0/18:1-PC), previously proposed to reflect nutritional status and shown to be a specific endogenous ligand of PPARα, induced CYP3A4 (up to 4-fold) and other biotransformation genes in hepatocytes with similar selectivity and potency as WY14,643. These data establish PPARα as a direct transcriptional regulator of hepatic CYP3A4. This finding warrants investigation of known and newly developed PPARα-targeted drugs for their drug-drug interaction potential. Furthermore, our data suggest that nutritional status can influence drug biotransformation capacity via endogenous phospholipid signalling.