Mycophenolic acid (MPA), is primarily metabolized in the liver to 7-O-MPA-β-glucuronide (MPAG). Using RP-h.p.l.c. we observed three further MPA metabolites, M-1, M-2, M-3, in plasma of transplant recipients on MMF therapy. To obtain information on the structure and source of these metabolites: (A) h.p.l.c. fractions containing either metabolite or MPA were collected and analysed by tandem mass spectrometry; (B) the metabolism of MPA was studied in human liver microsomes in the presence of UDP-glucuronic acid, UDP-glucose or NADPH; (C) hydrolysis of metabolites was investigated using β-glucosidase, β-glucuronidase or NaOH; (D) cross-reactivity of each metabolite was tested in an immunoassay for MPA (EMIT).
Mass spectrometry of M-1, M-2, MPA and MPAG in the negative ion mode revealed molecular ions of m/z 481, m/z 495, m/z 319 and m/z 495 respectively.
Incubation of microsomes with MPA and UDP-glucose produced M-1, with MPA and UDP-glucuronic acid MPAG and M-2 were formed, while with MPA and NADPH, M-3 was observed.
β-Glucosidase hydrolysed M-1 completely. β-Glucuronidase treatment led to a complete disappearance of MPAG whereas the amount of M-2 was reduced by approximately 30%. Only M-2 was labile to alkaline treatment.
M-2 and MPA but not M-1 and MPAG cross-reacted in the EMIT assay.
These results suggest that: (i) M-1 is the 7-OH glucose conjugate of MPA; (ii) M-2 is the acyl glucuronide conjugate of MPA; (iii) M-3 is derived from the hepatic CYP450 system.
British Journal of Pharmacology (1999) 126, 1075–1082; doi:10.1038/sj.bjp.0702399