Geissoschizine methyl ether (GM), an indole alkaloid from Uncaria hook, is an active ingredient in the traditional Japanese Kampo medicine yokukansan, which is used to treat neurosis, insomnia, irritability, and night crying in children.
Recent our pharmacokinetic studies suggested that there may be gender differences in the plasma concentrations of GM in rats, but not in humans. However, the details of this difference remain unverified. The purpose of this study was to clarify the reasons for the gender differences in rats.
GM plasma pharmacokinetics was compared in male and female rats orally administered yokukansan (4 g/kg). To confirm the involvement of cytochrome P450 (CYP) in GM liver metabolism, GM was incubated with male and female rat liver S9 fraction in the absence or presence of 1-aminobenzotriazole (a nonspecific CYP inhibitor). CYP isoforms involved in GM metabolism were estimated using recombinant rat CYP isoforms and anti-rat CYP antibodies.
The maximum GM plasma concentrations were significantly higher in female than in male rats. When GM was incubated with rat liver S9 fractions, GM reduction was more striking in male S9 (69.3%) than that in female S9 (10.0%) and was completely blocked with nonspecific CYP inhibitor 1-aminobenzotriazole. Screening experiments using recombinant rat cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoforms showed that CYP1A1, CYP2C6, CYP2C11, CYP2D1, and CYP3A2 were involved in GM metabolism. Of these CYP isoforms, the use of anti-rat CYP antibodies indicated that male-dependent CYP2C11 and CYP3A2 were predominantly involved in the liver microsomal GM metabolism with gender differences.
These results suggest that the cause of gender differences in plasma GM pharmacokinetics in rats is most likely because of male-dependent CYP2C11 and CYP3A2, and provide also useful information to further evaluate the pharmacological and toxicological effects in future. This study is the first to demonstrate that the gender differences in plasma GM pharmacokinetics in rats are caused by the gender-dependent metabolism of GM.

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