Reactivity of mefenamic acid 1-O-acyl glucuronide with proteins in vitro and ex vivo

Karen A. McGurk, Rory P Remmel, Vinayak P. Hosagrahara, David Tosh, Brian Burchell

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70 Scopus citations


Mefenamic acid is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug commonly used in analgesia. The use of this drug has been implicated in several cases of nephrotoxicity including acute renal failure and tubulointerstitial nephritis. One theory of drug-induced tubulointerstitial nephritis is that the drug or a derivative of the drug becomes irreversibly bound to certain sites in renal tissue and an immune response is directed against the hapten- host conjugate. Previous studies have shown that in humans the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug mefenamic acid is metabolized by both phase I enzymes and the phase II enzyme family UDP-glucuronosyltransferase. Indeed, three glucuronides were identified and isolated from human urine by semipreparative HPLC after oral administration of mefenamic acid. This study focuses on mefenamic acid glucuronide and further characterizes this acyl glucuronide in terms of stability and its ability to bind irreversibly to proteins. Stability studies of mefenamic acid glucuronide in aqueous buffer highlighted the relative stability of this acyl glucuronide at physiological pH. The half-life at 37°C, pH 7.4, was 16.5 ± 3.1 hr, which is considerably longer than those reported for many acyl glucuronides. The degradation of mefenamic acid glucuronide was accelerated under alkaline conditions, decreasing the half-life to 5 ± 1.6 hr at pH 8.0. Mefenamic acid glucuronide, although extremely stable in buffer at physiological pH, was found to bind irreversibly to human serum albumin in vitro. Irreversible binding to cellular proteins in culture was also evident with the addition of mefenamic acid to the heterologous Chinese hamster lung fibroblast cell line V79 expressing the human UDP-glucuronosyltransferase isoenzyme UGT1*02. This binding was directly related to glucuronide formation, because irreversible binding was not evident in the untransfected cell line V79.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-849
Number of pages8
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1996


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