Methods: We performed a structured search of bibliographic and drug databases for peer-reviewed literature using focused review questions.
Objective: This review consists of three parts, representing three different possibilities of interactions between cannabinoid receptor ligands of both exogenous and endogenous origin and cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs). The first part deals with cannabinoids as CYP substrates, the second summarizes current knowledge on the influence of various cannabinoids on the metabolic activity of CYP, and the third outline a possible involvement of the endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid ligands in the regulation of CYP liver activity.
Results: Biotransformation via a hydrolytic pathway is the major route of endocannabinoid metabolism and the deactivation of substrates is characteristic, in contrast to the minor oxidative pathway via CYP involved in the bioactivation reactions. Phytocannabinoids are extensively metabolized by CYPs. The enzymes CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4 catalyze most of their hydroxylations. Similarly, CYP represents a major metabolic pathway for both synthetic cannabinoids used therapeutically and drugs that are abused. In vitro experiments document the mostly CYP inhibitory activity of the major phytocannabinoids, with cannabidiol as the most potent inhibitor of many CYPs. The drug-drug interactions between cannabinoids and various drugs at the CYP level are reported, but their clinical relevance remains unclear. The direct activation/inhibition of nuclear receptors in the liver cells by cannabinoids may result in a change of CYP expression and activity. Finally, we hypothesize the interplay of central cannabinoid receptors with numerous nervous systems, resulting in a hormone-mediated signal towards nuclear receptors in hepatocytes.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring, non-psycho-toxic phytocannabinoid that has gained increasing attention as a popular consumer product and for its use in FDA-approved Epidiolex® (CBD oral solution) for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome. CBD was previously reported to be metabolized primarily by cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2C19 and CYP3A4, with minor contributions from UDP-glucuronosyltransferases. 7-Hydroxy-CBD (7-OH-CBD) is the primary active metabolite with equipotent activity compared to CBD. Given the polymorphic nature of CYP2C19, we hypothesized that variable CYP2C19 expression may lead to interindividual differences in CBD metabolism to 7-OH-CBD. The objectives of this study were to further characterize the roles of CYP enzymes in CBD metabolism, specifically to the active metabolite 7-OH-CBD, and to investigate the impact of CYP2C19 polymorphism on CBD metabolism in genotyped human liver microsomes. The results from reaction phenotyping experiments with recombinant CYP enzymes and CYP-selective chemical inhibitors indicated that both CYP2C19 and CYP2C9 are capable of CBD metabolism to 7-OH-CBD. CYP3A played a major role in CBD metabolic clearance via oxidation at sites other than the 7-position. In genotyped human liver microsomes, 7-OH-CBD formation was positively correlated with CYP2C19 activity but was not associated with CYP2C19 genotype. In a subset of single-donor human liver microsomes with moderate to low CYP2C19 activity, CYP2C9 inhibition significantly reduced 7-OH-CBD formation, suggesting that CYP2C9 may play a greater role in CBD 7-hydroxylation than previously thought. Collectively, these data indicate that both CYP2C19 and CYP2C9 are important contributors in CBD metabolism to the active metabolite 7-OH-CBD.
Significance Statement This study demonstrates that both CYP2C19 and CYP2C9 are involved in CBD metabolism to the active metabolite 7-OH-CBD, and CYP3A4 is a major contributor to CBD metabolism through pathways other than 7-hydroxylation. 7-OH-CBD formation was associated with human liver microsomal CYP2C19 activity, but not CYP2C19 genotype, and CYP2C9 was found to contribute significantly to 7-OH-CBD generation. These findings have implications for patients taking CBD, who may be at risk for clinically important CYP-mediated drug interactions.