Inhibition of UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase Enzymes by Major Cannabinoids and Their Metabolites. Other Scholarly Work

Nasrin, Shamema, Watson, Christy JW, Bardhi, Keti et al. (2021). Inhibition of UDP-Glucuronosyltransferase Enzymes by Major Cannabinoids and Their Metabolites. . 49(12), 1081-1089. 10.1124/dmd.121.000530

cited authors

  • Nasrin, Shamema; Watson, Christy JW; Bardhi, Keti; Fort, Gabriela; Chen, Gang; Lazarus, Philip

fiu authors


  • The UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) family of enzymes play a central role in the metabolism and detoxification of a wide range of endogenous and exogenous compounds. UGTs exhibit a high degree of structural similarity and display overlapping substrate specificity, often making estimations of potential drug-drug interactions difficult to fully elucidate. One such interaction yet to be examined may be occurring between UGTs and cannabinoids, as the legalization of recreational and medicinal cannabis and subsequent co-usage of cannabis and therapeutic drugs increases in the United States and internationally. In the present study, the inhibition potential of the major cannabinoids Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN), as well as their major metabolites, was determined in microsomes isolated from HEK293 cells overexpressing individual recombinant UGTs and in microsomes from human liver and kidney specimens. The highest inhibition was seen by CBD against the glucuronidation activity of UGTs 1A9, 2B4, 1A6, and 2B7, with binding-corrected IC50 values of 0.12 ± 0.020 µM, 0.22 ± 0.045 µM, 0.40 ± 0.10 µM, and 0.82 ± 0.15 µM, respectively. Strong inhibition of UGT1A9 was also demonstrated by THC and CBN, with binding-corrected IC50 values of 0.45 ± 0.12 μM and 0.51 ± 0.063 μM, respectively. Strong inhibition of UGT2B7 was also observed for THC and CBN; no or weak inhibition was observed with cannabinoid metabolites. This inhibition of UGT activity suggests that in addition to playing an important role in drug-drug interactions, cannabinoid exposure may have important implications in patients with impaired hepatic or kidney function. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Major cannabinoids found in the plasma of cannabis users inhibit several UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzymes, including UGT1A6, UGT1A9, UGT2B4, and UGT2B7. This study is the first to show the potential of cannabinoids and their metabolites to inhibit all the major kidney UGTs as well as the two most abundant UGTs present in liver. This study suggests that as all three major kidney UGTs are inhibited by cannabinoids, greater drug-drug interaction effects might be observed from co-use of cannabinods and therapeutics that are cleared renally.

publication date

  • December 1, 2021


  • Cannabidiol
  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabinol
  • Cannabis
  • Dronabinol
  • Drug Interactions
  • Glucuronosyltransferase
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Microsomes
  • Renal Elimination

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


  • Print-Electronic

start page

  • 1081

end page

  • 1089


  • 49


  • 12