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Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


The pregnane X receptor (PXR) is recognized as a key regulator for the induction of a large number of genes in drug metabolism and transport. The transactivation of PXR is enhanced by the glucocorticoid dexamethasone and the enhancement is linked to the induction of PXR in humans and rats. The present study was undertaken to determine the mechanism for the induction and ascertain the synergistic effect on the expression of CYP3A23, a rat PXR target. In primary hepatocytes, significant induction of PXR was detected as early as 2 h after the treatment and the maximal induction occurred at 1 μM dexamethasone. Similar induction kinetics was observed in the hepatoma line H4-II-E-C3. The induction was abolished by actinomycin D and dexamethasone efficaciously stimulated the rat PXR promoter. In addition, dexamethasone synergized esfenvalerate (an insecticide and a PXR activator) in inducing CYP3A23 and stimulating the CYP3A23 promoter. The full promoter of CYP3A23 (−1445/+74) was activated in a similar pattern as the changes in PXR mRNA in response to dexamethasone, esfenvalerate and co-treatment. In contrast, different responding patterns were detected on the stimulation of the CYP3A23 proximal promoter. Synergistic stimulation was also observed on the CYP3A4-DP-Luc reporter, the human counterpart of CYP3A23. These findings establish that transactivation is responsible for the induction of rat PXR and the induction presents potential interactions with insecticides in a species-conserved manner. The different responding patterns among CYP3A23 reporters point to an involvement of multiple transcriptional events in the regulation of CYP3A23 expression by dexamethasone, esfenvalerate and both.

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