Non-uniformity of changes in drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters in liver cirrhosis: Implications for drug dosage adjustment

Eman El-Khateeb, Brahim Achour, Zubida Al-Majdoub, Jill Barber, Amin Rostami-Hodjegan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Liver cirrhosis is a chronic disease that affects the liver structure, protein expression, and overall metabolic function. Abundance data for drug-metabolizing enzymes and transporters (DMET) across all stages of disease severity are scarce. Levels of these proteins are crucial for the accurate prediction of drug clearance in hepatically impaired patients using physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models, which can be used to guide the selection of more precise dosing. This study aimed to experimentally quantify these proteins in human liver samples and assess how they can impact the predictive performance of the PBPK models. We determined the absolute abundance of 51 DMET proteins in human liver microsomes across the three degrees of cirrhosis severity (n = 32; 6 mild, 13 moderate, and 13 severe), compared to histologically normal controls (n = 14), using QconCAT-based targeted proteomics. The results revealed a significant but non-uniform reduction in the abundance of enzymes and transporters, from control, by 30–50% in mild, 40–70% in moderate, and 50–90% in severe cirrhosis groups. Cancer and/or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease-related cirrhosis showed larger deterioration in levels of CYP3A4, 2C8, 2E1, 1A6, UGT2B4/7, CES1, FMO3/5, EPHX1, MGST1/3, BSEP, and OATP2B1 than the cholestasis set. Drug-specific pathways together with non-uniform changes of abundance across the enzymes and transporters under various degrees of cirrhosis necessitate the use of PBPK models. As case examples, such models for repaglinide, dabigatran, and zidovudine were successful in recovering disease-related alterations in drug exposure. In conclusion, the current study provides the biological rationale behind the absence of a single dose adjustment formula for all drugs in cirrhosis and demonstrates the utility of proteomics-informed PBPK modeling for drug-specific dose adjustment in liver cirrhosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3563-3577
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 21 Aug 2021


  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatic impairment
  • Quantitative proteomics
  • Enzymes
  • Transporters
  • PBPK


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