Sex differences in UDP-glucuronosyltransferase 2B17 expression and activity

Carla J. Gallagher, Renee M. Balliet, Dongxiao Sun, Gang Chen, Philip Lazarus

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54 Scopus citations


UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) are enzymes involved in the metabolism of steroid hormones, carcinogens, cancer chemotherapy agents, and addictive agents from cigarettes. Because the UGT2B family of genes has been linked to hormonal regulation in human cell lines in vitro, we hypothesized that there may be sex-related differences in the expression and activity of these genes in human tissues. To evaluate whether there are sex differences in UGT2B expression and activity, we examined 103 normal human liver specimens for UGT2B expression by real-time polymerase chain reaction and in vitro glucuronidation activities in human liver microsomes (HLM). Men exhibited an approximately 4-fold higher level of expression of UGT2B17 than women (p = 0.007). Consistent with the increased expression of UGT2B17 in men, HLM from men also had a higher level of glucuronidation activity than HLM from women against three UGT2B17 substrates: 3-fold higher for 17-dihydroexemestane (p = 0.002); 3-fold higher for 3-hydroxycotinine (p < 0.001); and 1.5-fold higher for suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (p = 0.014). When we stratified by UGT2B17 gene deletion genotype, similar patterns were observed for all three substrates, with HLM from men with the UGT2B17 (+/+) or (+/0) genotypes exhibiting significantly higher levels of glucuronidation activity against all three substrates compared with HLM from women. These data suggest that men have a higher amount of UGT2B17 glucuronidation activity then women. This sex difference in UGT2B17 gene expression and corresponding protein activity could potentially result in different levels of carcinogen detoxification or drug elimination in men versus women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2204-2209
Number of pages6
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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