Background and Objectives
Irinotecan (CPT-11) is metabolized to an active metabolite 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN-38) by carboxylesterase (CES). SN-38 is then converted to the inactive metabolite SN-38 glucuronide (SN-38G) by glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 (UGT1A1). Genetic polymorphisms in UGT1A1 have been associated with altered SN-38 pharmacokinetics, which increase the risk of toxicity in patients. CPT-11 is also converted to 7-ethyl-10-[4-N-(5-aminopentanoic acid)-1-piperidino]carbonyloxycamptothecin (APC) and 7-ethyl-10-(4-amino-1-piperidino) carbonyloxycamptothecin (NPC) by cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A), and this route also affects the plasma concentration of SN-38. We evaluated the activities of UGT1A1, CYP3A, and CES and the factors affecting the pharmacokinetics of plasma SN-38 in patients with UGT1A1 gene polymorphisms.
Three male patients aged 56, 65, and 49 years were recruited for the analysis. All patients had pancreatic cancer, received FOLFIRINOX, and had UGT1A1*6/*6 (patients 1 and 3) or *6/*28 (patient 2) genetic polymorphisms. The rate constants for evaluating the enzyme activity were determined from the measured plasma concentration of CPT-11 and its metabolites using a two-compartment model by WinNonlin.
The area under the plasma concentration–time curve (AUC) of SN-38 was patient 1 > patient 2 > patient 3. The rate constants obtained from the model analysis indicated the respective enzyme activities of UGT1A1 (k57), CYP3A (k13 + k19), and CES (k15). The order of values for UGT1A1 activity was patient 2 > patient 3 > patient 1. Since UGT1A1 activity was low in patient 1 with a high AUC of SN-38, it can be said that the increase in plasma concentration was due to a decrease in UGT1A1 activity. Conversely, the order of values for CYP3A and CES activities was patient 3 > patient 1 > patient 2 and patient 2 > patient 1 > patient 3, respectively. Patient 3 had the lowest AUC of SN-38, caused by a lower level of CES activity and increased CYP3A activity.
In this study, we indicated that the plasma AUC of SN-38 and AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 may depend on changes in the activities of CYP3A, CES, and UGT1A1. Using pharmacokinetic analysis, it is possible to directly evaluate enzyme activity and consider what kind of enzyme variation causes the increase in the AUC of SN-38.
|Two-compartment pharmacokinetic modeling of irinotecan and its metabolites was performed.|
|Pharmacokinetic analysis can be used to evaluate enzyme activity directly using rate constants making it possible to determine the type of enzyme variation causing increases in the AUC of active metabolite SN-38.|
|The plasma AUC of SN-38 and AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 may depend on changes in the activities of CYP3A, CES, and UGT1A1.|
Irinotecan (CPT-11) is used in the treatment of various malignancies including lung, breast, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. The drug is metabolized by carboxylesterase (CES) to the active metabolite 7-ethyl-10-hydroxycamptothecin (SN-38), which is then converted to an inactive metabolite SN-38 glucuronide (SN-38G) by uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase 1A1 (UGT1A1) . CPT-11 is also converted to two oxidative metabolites, 7-ethyl-10-[4-N-(5-aminopentanoic acid)-1-piperidino]carbonyloxycamptothecin (APC) and 7-ethyl-10-(4-amino-1-piperidino) carbonyloxycamptothecin (NPC), by cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A). It is reported that APC is generated at the same concentration (11%) as that of SN-38 . CPT-11 is used with fluorouracil or capecitabine, and the severe toxicities of which can also be attributed to genetic deficits in metabolism because of decreased dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase activity.
Increased plasma concentrations of the active form of SN-38 lead to the development of neutropenia and diarrhea because the metabolite remains in the body for long periods. Increased plasma concentrations of SN-38 are thought to be due to decreased UGT1A1 activity. The genetic diagnosis of UGT1A1*6 and UGT1A1*28 is currently widely used in the design of drug administration, and the dose has been reduced in patients with the according genetic polymorphisms in Japan [3,4,5]. UGT1A1*28 is found in approximately 30–40% of Caucasians and approximately 15% of Asians, and although UGT1A1*6 is rare in Caucasians, it is found in approximately 15–20% of Asians [1, 6, 7]. However, there are some parts of the metabolic process that cannot be explained by the genetic diagnosis of UGT1A1*6 and UGT1A1*28 alone. Recent studies reported the involvement of UGT1A7*3 and UGT1A9*1b in the reduction of forming SN-38G [8, 9]; therefore, it may be difficult to evaluate the metabolic activity of all patients by testing only for the specific genetic polymorphisms UGT1A1*6 and UGT1A1*28.
The area under the plasma concentration–time curve (AUC) ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 is used to evaluate UGT1A1 activity in patients after receiving CPT-11 for treatment. Paoluzzi et al. calculated the plasma AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 in 86 patients grouped by the UGT1A1*28 genetic polymorphism  and found that the median AUC ratio decreases in patients with mutations compared to patients without the mutation. However, a large inter-individual variation of the plasma AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 was observed in patients with the same mutation. In certain cases, patients without mutations have the same AUC ratio as those with mutations. From these facts, it is difficult to sufficiently explain the cause of increased SN-38 plasma concentrations using only UGT1A1 genetic variation and AUC ratio. It is, therefore, necessary to evaluate which metabolic pathway contributes to the plasma concentrations of SN-38 in each patient.
The activities of CYP3A and CES, which are involved in CPT-11 metabolism, may also participate in changes to SN-38 plasma concentrations. Mathijssen et al. reported that the plasma AUC of SN-38 decreased under co-treatment with St. John’s wort to induce CYP3A activity, although the plasma AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 did not change . This suggests that individualized CYP3A activities may affect plasma concentrations of SN-38. Although Sai et al. reported that the AUC of SN-38 increases as the number of CES gene polymorphisms increases, with no significant difference , it is still unclear to what extent CES activity affects the plasma AUC of SN-38. It is important to determine the conversion rates of CPT-11 to SN-38, APC, and NPC and that of SN-38 to SN-38G to evaluate the contribution of UGT, CES, and CYP3A to the pharmacokinetics of SN-38.
The purpose of this study is to clarify that the CPT-11 administration indicators of SN-38 concentration and AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 are dependent on changes in the enzyme activities of CYP3A and CES as well as that of UGT1A1. Compartment model analysis of plasma concentration can confirm the conversion rate. In this study, we calculated the pharmacokinetic parameters from the plasma concentration of CPT-11 and its metabolites (SN-38, SN-38G, APC, and NPC) to evaluate the influence of UGT, CES, and CYP3A activities on SN-38 pharmacokinetics in three patients with UGT1A1 gene polymorphism. An accurate evaluation of enzyme activity should provide useful information to predict and explain the occurrence of side-effects in patients administered with CPT-11.
Patients and Methods
Three patients (patient 1: 56-year-old male, bodyweight [BW] 62 kg, height [Ht] 175 cm, body surface area [BSA] 1.755 m2; patient 2: 65-year-old male, BW 66 kg, Ht 172 cm, BSA 1.775 m2; patient 3: 49-year-old-male, BW 55 kg, Ht 161 cm, BSA 1.575 m2) who had received FOLFIRINOX therapy (oxaliplatin, irinotecan hydrochloride hydrate, 5-fluorouracil, and levofolinate calcium) for the treatment of pancreatic cancer at Kyorin University Hospital were recruited. These patients participated in our study because their doctor determined that they needed dosage reduction. In their genetic diagnosis, the patients all had genetic polymorphisms of UGT1A1—patients 1 and 3 had UGT1A1*6/*6 and patient 2 had UGT1A1*6/*28. From the result of the genetic diagnosis, the doses of irinotecan hydrochloride hydrate were reduced from the standard (180 mg/m2) to 100 mg/m2 for patients 1 and 2 and 80 mg/m2 for patient 3. The study was approved by Kyorin University Faculty of Medicine and Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences Human Subjects Review Board and written informed consent was obtained before the study. Venous blood (8 mL) was collected at 0, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 24, 48 h after the administration of irinotecan hydrochloride on the FOLFIRINOX therapy start day. Blood collected in heparin-coated blood collection tubes was immediately ice-cooled after collection and centrifuged at 4 °C for 5 min at 1000×g. Thereafter, the plasma fractions were collected and stored at − 80 °C until use.
Chemicals and Reagents
CPT-11, SN-38, SN-38G and APC were kindly donated by Yakult Honsha (Tokyo, Japan). NPC was purchased from Toronto Research Chemicals (North York, ON, Canada). The internal standard (camptothecin, CPT) was purchased from FUJIFILM Wako Pure Chemical Corporation (Osaka, Japan). 1-heptanesulfonic acid was purchased from Acros Organics (Geel, Belgium) and methanol for high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) was purchased from Kanto Chemical Co., Ink. (Tokyo, Japan).
Measurement of Plasma Concentration
Measurement of the plasma concentration of CPT-11 and its metabolites was carried out by HPLC with fluorescence detection. A YMC Pack CN (100 × 2.0 mm I.D., 3 μm) (YMC, Japan) was used as the analysis column, 75% methanol was used as mobile phase I, and potassium phosphate buffer (pH 4) with 3 mM sodium 1-heptanesulfonate as mobile phase II. The isocratic method at 31:69 was implemented. The flow rate was 0.6 mL/min. The wavelength was set to 370 nm and the fluorescence wavelength was set to 470 nm (CPT-11, NPC, SN-38G, APC, and CPT) and 534 nm (SN-38). CPT was used as an internal standard. Briefly, 2.76 ng of CPT was added to 0.5 mL of plasma sample and was diluted 10-fold with 0.01 M hydrochloric acid. This sample was injected into Bond-Elut-C2 and subsequently extracted with methanol. The eluate was evaporated to dryness and dissolved in the mobile phase. The range of the calibration curve including the lower and upper limit of measurement was 2.94 and 1260 ng for CPT-11, 0.76 and 19.05 ng for SN-38, 1.38 and 51.84 ng for SN-38G, 2.81 and 97.92 ng for APC, and 0.204 and 30.72 ng for NPC, respectively. The retention time was 3.1 min for SN-38G, 6.5 for NPC, 7.4 for CPT, 9.3 for APC, 11.3 for CPT-11, and 12.7 for SN-38. Relative error was < 5.5% and coefficient of variation was < 4.2% in this method.
Phoenix WinNonlin 6.4 (Pharsight Corp, Sunnyvale, CA, USA) was used to calculate the in vivo kinetic parameters. For the analysis model, a non-compartment model and a 2-compartment model were applied. In the non-compartment model, a model including constant-speed intravenous injection and primary disappearance was used. From the slope of the points at 8, 24, and 48 h after administration in the elimination phase, the terminal blood concentration was predicted, and the AUC up to infinite time was calculated. The 2-compartment model was constructed whereby peripheral compartments were added to CPT-11 and metabolite circulation compartments. As an example, the differential equation for the SN-38 model is:
where X1 is the amount of CPT-11 in the central compartment, X5 indicates the amount of SN-38 in the central compartment, X6 is the amount of SN-38 in the peripheral compartment, t is the time, and ke5 is the elimination rate constant from the central compartment of SN-38. k15, k56, k57, and k65 are conversion rate constants between compartments. In the analysis of CPT-11 and its metabolites, a proportional error (multiplictive) was used as a weight. A Gauss–Newton method was used as the analysis algorithm. The Akaike information criterion (AIC) was used to evaluate the model.
Phenotyping of CYP3A was performed using the plasma 6β-hydroxycortisol to cortisol ratio developed in our laboratory . The plasma concentration at 48 h after the administration of irinotecan hydrochloride was used in the evaluation.
Plasma concentrations of CPT-11 following the administration of irinotecan hydrochloride hydrate in the three patients were 999–1265 ng/mL at the peak and 22.5–29.7 ng/mL after 48 h of infusion. The plasma concentrations of SN-38 were 30.02–49.88 ng/mL immediately after administration and 1.13–6.50 ng/mL after 48 h. The plasma concentrations of SN-38G, APC, and NPC reached a maximum after 0.5–1 h and were 33.27–74.23 ng/mL for SN-38G, 51.95–71.04 ng/mL for APC, and 2.70–4.56 ng/mL for NPC in the three patients (Fig. 1). Patient 1 showed a bimodal appearance again after 4 h and enterohepatic circulation was seen.
The AUCs at 100 mg/m2 for patients 1 and 2 and 80 mg/m2 for patient 3 were 8.80, 8.55, and 9.12 μg · h/mL for CPT-11; 0.97, 0.58, and 0.27 μg · h/mL for SN-38; 2.13, 1.09, and 2.04 μg · h/mL for SN-38G; 1.06, 0.63, and 1.51 μg · h/mL for APC; and 0.0807, 0.0237, and 0.0353 μg · h/mL for NPC, respectively. The plasma AUC ratios of (APC + NPC)/CPT-11 for patients 1, 2, and 3 were 0.130, 0.076, and 0.170, respectively and the plasma AUC ratios of SN-38G/SN-38 were 2.20, 1.87, and 7.44, respectively (Table 1).
In the 2-compartmental analysis, by constructing a model in which the peripheral compartments were added to the central compartment of each metabolite, a predicted curve of plasma concentration reflected the actual measurements (Figs. 2, 3). The AIC values were − 329, − 316, and − 323 in 1-compartmental analysis and − 393, − 358, and − 361 in 2-compartmental analysis for each of the patients. The total rate constants for the conversion of CPT-11 to APC and NPC by CYP3A (k13 + k19) were 0.0501, 0.0321, and 0.0525 h−1; the rate constants for the conversion of CPT-11 to SN-38 by CES (k15) were 0.0746, 0.1046, and 0.0668 h−1; and the rate constants for the conversion of SN-38 to SN-38G by UGT1A1 (k57) were 0.552, 1.114, and 0.804 h−1, respectively (Table 2). The plasma 6β-hydroxycortisol to cortisol ratios (for phenotyping of CYP3A) were 0.00153, 0.00071, and 0.00226, respectively.
In the compartment model, we first constructed a model of the central and peripheral compartments for CPT-11 and a central compartment for metabolites, referring to the model described by Ronser et al. . In this model, a large deviation occurred between the prediction curve and the actual measurement of plasma concentration. As a cause of the deviation, biphasic elimination was observed not only for CPT-11, but also for the metabolites. Therefore, a 2-compartment model of CPT-11 and the metabolites was created in consideration of the peripheral compartment for the metabolites. In this model, the deviation between the prediction curve and the actual measurement of plasma concentration was greatly improved (Fig. 3) and the AIC value was reduced by − 329, − 316, and − 323 to − 393, − 358, and − 361 for each of the patients. Younis et al.  constructed two models, one that considered and one that did not consider enterohepatic circulation, and analyzed each model in patients with and without intestinal hepatic circulation. Comparing the rate constants calculated for each of these groups of patients, those for the conversion of CPT-11 to SN-38 were 2.55 and 0.29 h−1 and those for CPT-11 to APC were 1.14 and 0.31 h−1. The large difference between the two models was thought to be due to differences in the analysis of the terminal phase when the enterohepatic circulation of the distribution phase was incorporated into the model. For a more accurate evaluation of terminal phase data when evaluating enzyme activity from rate constants, it is therefore more suitable to use a simple model that excludes entero-hepatic circulation.
As a result of the analysis, the elimination rate constant between compartments was calculated (Table 2). It is possible to evaluate individual differences in metabolism using the rate constant. For example, Filimonova et al. used the rate constant for the conversion of caffeine to paraxanthine to evaluate inter-individual variability . They used elimination rate constants to differentiate specific pathways from multiple metabolic pathways and used them to evaluate CYP1A2 activity. The activities of CYP3A, CES, and UGT1A1 in the metabolism of CPT-11 can also be evaluated by comparing the rate constants.
The order of rate constants k13 + k19 (CYP3A activity) was patient 3 (0.0525 h−1) > patient 1 (0.0501 h−1) > patient 2 (0.0321 h−1); whereas the order of the AUC ratios of (APC + NPC)/CPT-11, which indicates CYP3A activity, was patient 3 (0.170) > patient 1 (0.130) > patient 2 (0.076). Recently, we showed that the plasma 6β-hydroxycortisol to cortisol ratio is useful in CYP3A phenotyping , and we therefore used this method to evaluate the activity of the patients in this study. The order of CYP3A phenotypes was patient 3 (0.00226) > patient 1 (0.00153) > patient 2 (0.00071). The order of CYP3A phenotyping matched that of the elimination rate constant and AUC ratio, which supported the accuracy of the pharmacokinetic analysis. The metabolism of CPT-11 is mainly carried out by CES and CYP3A. The order of values for the rate constant k15, which indicated CES activity, was patient 2 (0.1046 h−1) > patient 1 (0.0746 h−1) > patient 3 (0.0668 h−1). This was the reverse of the patient orders for the rate constants k13 + k19 (CYP3A activity), suggesting that the contribution of metabolism from CPT-11 to APC and NPC by CYP3A tended to increase in the three patients with low metabolism of CPT-11 to SN-38 by CES.
The order of values for the rate constant k57 (UGT1A1 activity) was patient 2 (1.114 h−1) > patient 3 (0.804 h−1) > patient 1 (0.552 h−1). The inter-individual variation was calculated as 2.0-fold, suggesting that there are individual differences in activity even in patients who are homozygous for the UGT1A1 gene polymorphism. Therefore, it can be said that UGT1A1 activity varies among individuals. In the three patients, the order of the AUC ratios of SN-38G/SN-38 was patient 3 (7.44) > patient 1 (2.20) > patient 2 (1.87). In general, patients with UGT1A1 mutations have reduced amounts of SN-38G; therefore, the SN-38G/SN-38 AUC ratio was used to demonstrate UGT1A1 activity. The order of the AUC ratios (patient 3 > patient 1 > patient 2) was different from that of the elimination rate constants (patient 2 > patient 3 > patient 1).
Paoluzzi et al.  calculated the AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 by grouping patients with each genetic polymorphism of UGT1A1*28 in 86 subjects. In patients with wild-type homozygosity, the median AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 was 7.00 (1.70–21.0, n = 44) with large inter-individual variability. The median was 6.26 (2.02–37.5, n = 37) in heterozygous patients and 2.51 (1.91–8.29, n = 5) in patients who were homozygous for the mutation. The median value of the AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 was reduced in patients with mutations. However, the individual difference was large in each group and the patient with the lowest AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 (1.70) was a patient exhibiting wild-type homozygosity. The cause of this large individual difference remains unknown and it will be necessary to clarify the cause of individual differences when using the AUC ratio to evaluate UGT1A1 activity. In this study, the values for patients 1 and 2 were closer to the median for mutant homozygotes (2.51) reported by Paoluzzi et al., but the value for patient 3 was closer to the median of patients who were homozygous for the wild-type (7.00). Although the AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 is used in evaluating UGT1A1 activity, there is a possibility that this ratio may be the same in patients who are homozygous for the wild-type, despite the reduction in UGT1A1 activity.
Satoh et al. reported that the SN-38G/SN-38 ratio was 5.03 for the wild-type, 3.10 for UGT1A1*28/*28, 2.34 for UGT1A1*6/*28, and 1.21 for UGT1A1*6/*6 . These data suggested that patients with UGT1A1*6 had a greater decrease in UGT1A1 activity than those with UGT1A1*28. In this study, patient 2 with UGT1A1*6/*28 showed a higher k57 value than patients 1 and 3 with UGT1A1*6/*6, indicating a similar tendency as reported by Satoh et al. On the other hand, the AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38 for *6/*6 patients in this study was greater than that for *6/*28 patients, which was contrary to the results of Satoh et al. They also reported that the order of AUCs for SN-38 was *28/*28 > *6/*6 > *6/*28, which is different from that of the AUC ratios of SN-38G/SN-38 (*28/*28 > *6/*28 > *6/*6). It is considered that such a contradiction is attributed to simply comparing the change in disappearance due to polymorphism with AUCs for SN-38 and AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38. An accurate judgment can be made by comparing pharmacokinetic parameters as in this study.
The order of the AUCs for SN-38 in this study was patient 1 (0.97 μg · h/mL) > patient 2 (0.58 μg · h/mL) > patient 3 (0.27 μg · h/mL). Since UGT1A1 activity (k57) was low in patient 1, who had a high plasma concentration of SN-38, it can be said that the increase in plasma concentration was caused by the decrease in UGT1A1 activity. However, patient 3 displayed a lower SN-38 AUC (0.27 μg · h/mL) than patients 1 and 2 (0.97, 0.58 μg · h/mL). This is because patient 3 had the lowest k15, indicating CES activity (patient 2 > patient 1 > patient 3), and the highest k13 + k19, indicating CYP3A activity (patient 3 > patient 1 > patient 2). In this way, by using the compartment model to evaluate enzyme activity, it is possible to estimate the cause of the fluctuation in SN-38 plasma concentration. The effects on SN-38 plasma concentration can be evaluated not only by UGT1A1 activity but also by changes in CES and CYP3A activities using this method.
This study indicates that the plasma AUC of SN-38 and AUC ratio of SN-38G/SN-38, which are indicators of the efficacy of CPT-11, depend on changes of CYP3A and CES activity as well as UGT1A1 activity. These findings suggest that the evaluation of enzyme activity by pharmacokinetic analysis is important for elucidating the change in plasma concentration of SN-38. In future, it may be possible to evaluate which enzyme activity causes the increase in SN-38 plasma concentration in patients, thereby tailoring their medication to offset side-effects.
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Conflicts of interest
Fumio Nagashima received personal fees from Taiho, Chugai, Yakult, Sumitomo Dainippon, Merck Serono, Takeda, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Sanofi Mochida, Janssen and Nestle. Naohiro Okano received personal fees from Merck Serono, Taiho, Eisai and J-Pharma. Junji Furuse received grants from J-Pharma, Taiho, Sumitomo Dainippon, Janssen, Daiichi Sankyo, MSD, Yakult, Takeda, Chugai, Ono, Astellas, Zeria, Novartis, Nanocarrier, Shionogi, Onco Therapy Science, Eli Lilly Japan, Bayer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck Serono, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Eisai, NanoCarrier, Mochida, Baxalta and Sanofi, and received personal fees from Taiho, Chugai, Yakult, Sumitomo Dainippon, Eli Lilly Japan, Astellas, Ono, Pfizer, Bayer, Novartis, Merck Serono, Takeda, Eisai, MSD, Shionogi, J-Pharma, Daiichi Sankyo, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Sanofi, Sandoz, Otsuka, Zeria, Fujifilm, Astra Zeneca, Asahi Kasei, Shire, Mochida, Nippon Kayaku, EA pharma, Sawai and Teijin Pharma. CPT-11, SN-38, SN-38G and APC were kindly donated by Yakult Honsha.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. The study was approved by Kyorin University Faculty of Medicine and Tokyo University of Pharmacy and Life Sciences Human Subjects Review Board.
Written informed consent was obtained from all patients participating in the study.
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Yokokawa, A., Kaneko, S., Endo, S. et al. Effect of UGT1A1, CYP3A and CES Activities on the Pharmacokinetics of Irinotecan and its Metabolites in Patients with UGT1A1 Gene Polymorphisms. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13318-021-00675-3