Characteristics of the Formation and Membrane Transport of 7-Hydroxymethotrexate in Freshly Isolated Rabbit Hepatocytes

Gerard Fabre, Isabelle Fabre, David A. Gewirtz, I. David Goldman, Gerard Fabre, Isabelle Fabre

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11 Scopus citations


The cellular pharmacology of methotrexate was evaluated in freshly isolated rabbit hepatocytes in suspension with an analysis of drug metabolism by high-performance liquid chromatography. After exposure of hepatocytes at a cytocrit of 5% to 5 μM [3H]-methotrexate, intracellular 7-hydroxymethotrexate appears rapidly within the cell; within 15 sec, the level of 7-hydroxymethotrexate exceeds the level of intracellular methotrexate, although the latter has not achieved the dihydrofolate reductase binding capacity. Within 20 min, virtually all methotrexate is hydroxylated. There is minimal formation of methotrexate polyglutamyl derivatives even after exposure of cells to very high levels of methotrexate, and 7-hydroxymethotrexate polyglutamates do not accumulate in the cell at all after incubation with [3H]-hydroxy-methotrexate. Because of the rapidity of the hydroxylation of methotrexate, transport of this agent could not be characterized. However, some aspects of the transport properties of 7-hydroxymethotrexate could be studied since the catabolite is neither bound nor metabolized in this system. Net 7-hydroxymethotrexate transport was reduced by the addition of 5-formyltetrahydrofolate. As observed for 4-aminoantifolate transport in other cell systems, net 7-hydroxymethotrexate transport was markedly stimulated by sodium azide, an inhibitor of energy metabolism. The data suggest that hydroxylation of methotrexate proceeds at a rate at least comparable to the rate of association of the drug with dihydrofolate reductase and that transport of methotrexate into rabbit hepatocytes is stow relative to the rate of catabolism to the 7-hydroxy derivative. Rabbit hepatocytes may be a useful model for exploring methotrexate catabolism at the cellular level and may provide insights into the interaction between methotrexate and/or other 4-aminoantifolates and the human liver.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1086-1091
Number of pages6
JournalCancer research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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