The interest on the role of gut microbiota in the biotransformation of drugs and xenobiotics has grown over the last decades and a deeper understanding of the mutual interactions is expected to help future improvements in the fields of drug development, toxicological risk assessment and precision medicine. In this paper, a microbiome drug metabolism case is presented, involving a lipophilic small molecule, N-(3β-hydroxy-Δ5-cholen-24-oyl)-L-tryptophan, UniPR1331, active as antagonist of the Eph–ephrin system and effective in vivo in a murine orthotopic model of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Following the administration of a single 30 mg/kg dose (p.o.) to mice, maximal plasma levels were reached 30 min after dosing and rapidly declined thereafter. To explain the observed in vivo behaviour, in vitro phase I and II metabolism assays were conducted employing mouse and human liver subcellular fractions and profiling main metabolites by means of tandem (HPLC-ESI-MS/MS) and high resolution mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-HR-MS). In the presence of in vitro mouse liver fractions, UniPR1331 showed a low phase I metabolic clearance, despite the identification of a 3-oxo and several hydroxylated metabolites. Conversely, after oral administration of UniPR1331 to mice, a novel isobaric metabolite was detected that (i) was subjected, as parent UniPR1331, to enterohepatic circulation (ii) had not been previously identified in vitro in mouse liver microsomes and (iii) was not observed forming after intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of UniPR1331. An in vitro faecal fermentation assay produced the same chemical entity supporting a major role of gut microbiota in the in vivo clearance of UniPR1331.
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