Schisandra chinensis regulates drug metabolizing enzymes and drug transporters via activation of nrf2-mediated signaling pathway

Jin Lian He, Zhi Wei Zhou, Juan Juan Yin, Chang Qiang He, Shu Feng Zhou, Yang Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Drug metabolizing enzymes (DMEs) and drug transporters are regulated via epigenetic, transcriptional, posttranscriptional, and translational and posttranslational modifcations. Phase I and II DMEs and drug transporters play an important role in the disposition and detoxifcation of a large number of endogenous and exogenous compounds. The nuclear factor (erythroid-derived 2)-like 2 (Nrf2) is a critical regulator of a variety of important cytoprotective genes that are involved in disposition and detoxifcation of xenobiotics. Schisandra chinensis (SC) is a commonly used traditional Chinese herbal medicine that has been primarily used to protect the liver because of its potent antioxidative and anti-infammatory activities. SC can modulate some DMEs and drug transporters, but the underlying mechanisms are unclear. In this study, we aimed to explore the role of Nrf2 in the regulatory effect of SC extract (SCE) on selected DMEs and drug transporters in human hepatocellular liver carcinoma cell line (HepG2) cells. The results showed that SCE, schisandrin A, and schisandrin B signifcantly increased the expression of NAD(P)H: Nicotin-amide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate-oxidase or:quinone oxidoreductase 1, heme oxygenase-1, glutamate–cysteine ligase, and glutathione S-transferase A4 at both transcriptional and posttran-scriptional levels. Incubation of HepG2 cells with SCE resulted in a signifcant increase in the intracellular level of glutathione and total glutathione S-transferase content. SCE signifcantly elevated the messenger ribonucleic acid and protein levels of P-glycoprotein and multidrug resistance-associated protein 2 and 4, whereas the expression of organic anion transporting peptide 1A2 and 1B1 was signifcantly downregulated by SCE. Knockdown of Nrf2 by small interfering ribonucleic acid attenuated the regulatory effect of SCE on these DMEs and drug transporters. SCE signifcantly upregulated Nrf2 and promoted the translocation of Nrf2 from cytoplasm to the nuclei. Additionally, SCE signifcantly suppressed the expression of cytosolic Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (the repressor of Nrf2) and remarkably increased Nrf2 stability in HepG2 cells. Taken together, our fndings suggest that the hepatoprotective effects of SCE may be partially ascribed to the modulation of DMEs and drug transporters via Nrf2-mediated signaling pathway. SCE may alter the pharmacokinetics of other coadministered drugs that are substrates of these DMEs and transporters and thus cause unfavorable herb–drug interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-146
Number of pages20
JournalDrug Design, Development and Therapy
StatePublished - Dec 17 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug metabolizing enzyme
  • Drug transporter
  • HepG2 Cell
  • Keap1
  • MRP
  • Nrf2
  • OATP
  • P-gp
  • Schisandra chinos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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