Summary: Purpose: In clinical studies, topiramate (TPM) was shown to cause a dose-dependent increase in the clearance of ethinyl estradiol. We hypothesized that this interaction results from induction of hepatic cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4 by TPM. Accordingly, we investigated whether TPM induces CYP3A4 in primary human hepatocytes and activates the human pregnane X receptor (hPXR), a nuclear receptor that serves as a regulator of CYP3A4 transcription.
Methods: Human hepatocytes were treated for 72 h with TPM (10, 25, 50, 100, 250, and 500 μM) and known inducers, phenobarbital (PB; 2 mM), and rifampicin (10 μM). The rate of testosterone 6β-hydroxylation by hepatocytes served as a marker for CYP3A4 activity. The CYP3A4-specific protein and mRNA levels were determined by using Western and Northern blot analyses, respectively. The hPXR activation was assessed with cell-based reporter gene assay.
Results: Compared with controls, TPM (50–500 μM)–treated hepatocytes exhibited a considerable increase in the CYP3A4 activity (1. 6- to 8.2-fold), protein levels (4.6- to 17.3-fold), and mRNA levels (1.9- to 13.3-fold). Comparatively, rifampicin (10 μM) effected 14.5-, 25.3-, and a 20.3-fold increase in CYP3A4 activity, immunoreactive protein levels, and mRNA levels, respectively. TPM (50–500 μM) caused 1.3- to 3-fold activation of the hPXR, whereas rifampicin (10 μM) caused a 6-fold activation.
Conclusions: The observed induction of CYP3A4 by TPM, especially at the higher concentrations, provides a potential mechanistic explanation of the reported increase in the ethinyl estradiol clearance by TPM. It also is suggestive of other potential interactions when high-dose TPM therapy is used.