Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, Singapore; Department of Pharmacology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore. Electronic address: [Email]
Lithocholic acid is a cytotoxic bile acid oxidized at the C-3 position by human cytochrome P450 3A (CYP3A) to form 3-ketocholanoic acid, but it is not known whether this metabolite is cytotoxic. Tocotrienols, in their various isomeric forms, are vitamin E analogues. In the present study, the hypothesis to be tested is that tocotrienols inhibit CYP3A-catalyzed lithocholic acid 3-oxidation, thereby influencing lithocholic acid cytotoxicity. Our enzyme catalysis experiments indicated that human recombinant CYP3A5 in addition to CYP3A4, liver microsomes, and intestinal microsomes catalyzed lithocholic acid 3-oxidation to form 3-ketocholanoic acid. Liver microsomes with the CYP3A5*1/*3 and CYP3A5*3/*3 genotypes were associated with decreased lithocholic acid 3-oxidation. α-Tocotrienol, γ-tocotrienol, δ-tocotrienol, and a tocotrienol-rich vitamin E mixture, but not α-tocopherol (a vitamin E analogue), differentially inhibited lithocholic acid 3-oxidation catalyzed by liver and intestinal microsomes and recombinant CYP3A4 and CYP3A5. Compared to lithocholic acid 3-oxidation, CYP3A-catalyzed testosterone 6β-hydroxylation was inhibited to a lesser extent by α-tocotrienol, γ-tocotrienol, δ-tocotrienol, and a tocotrienol-rich vitamin E mixture. δ-Tocotrienol inhibited lithocholic acid 3-oxidation by a mixed mode. Like lithocholic acid, 3-ketocholanoic acid was also cytotoxic in human intestinal and liver cell models. δ-Tocotrienol decreased the extent of lithocholic acid 3-oxidation and this inhibition was associated with enhanced cytotoxicity in LS180 cells treated with δ-tocotrienol and lithocholic acid. Overall, vitamin E analogues inhibited in vitro lithocholic acid 3-oxidation in an isomer-dependent manner, with inhibition occurring with tocotrienols, but not α-tocopherol. The enhanced lithocholic acid toxicity by δ-tocotrienol in a human intestinal cell model warrants future investigations in vivo.