Clinical and Molecular Perspectives on Inflammation-Mediated Regulation of Drug Metabolism and Transport

Ann Cathrine Dalgård Dunvald, Erkka Järvinen, Christina Mortensen, Tore B. Stage*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Inflammation is a possible cause of variability in drug response and toxicity due to altered regulation in drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters (DMETs) in humans. Here, we evaluate the clinical and in vitro evidence on inflammation-mediated modulation of DMETs, and the impact on drug metabolism in humans. Furthermore, we identify and discuss the gaps in our current knowledge. A systematic literature search on PubMed, Embase, and grey literature was performed in the period of February to September 2020. A total of 203 papers was included. In vitro studies in primary human hepatocytes revealed strong evidence that CYP3A4 is strongly downregulated by inflammatory cytokines IL-6 and IL-1β. CYP1A2, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP2D6 were downregulated to a lesser extent. In clinical studies, acute and chronic inflammatory diseases were observed to cause downregulation of CYP enzymes in a similar pattern. However, there is no clear correlation between in vitro studies and clinical studies, mainly because most in vitro studies use supraphysiological cytokine doses. Moreover, clinical studies demonstrate considerable variability in terms of methodology and inconsistencies in evaluation of the inflammatory state. In conclusion, we find inflammation and pro-inflammatory cytokines to be important factors in regulation of drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters. The observed downregulation is clinically relevant, and we emphasize caution when treating patients in an inflammatory state with narrow therapeutic index drugs. Further research is needed to identify the full extent of inflammation-mediated changes in DMETs and to further support personalized medicine.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)277-290
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A/metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System/genetics
  • Cytokines/metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inactivation, Metabolic
  • Inflammation


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