Indican (indoxyl-β-D-glucoside) is present in several Chinese herbs e.g. Isatis indigotica, Polygonum tinctorium and Polygonum perfoliatum. The major metabolite of indican was indoxyl sulfate (IS), an uremic toxin which was a known substrate/inhibitor of organic anion transporter (OAT) 1, OAT 3 and multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP) 4. Methotrexate (MTX), an important immunosuppressant with narrow therapeutic window, is a substrate of OAT 1, 2, 3, 4 and MRP 1, 2, 3, 4. We hypothesized that IS, the major metabolite of oral indican, might inhibit the renal excretion of MTX mediated by OAT 1, OAT 3 and MRP 4. Therefore, this study investigated the effect of oral indican on the pharmacokinetics of MTX. Rats were orally given MTX with and without indican (20.0 and 40.0 mg/kg) in a parallel design. The serum MTX concentration was determined by a fluorescence polarization immunoassay. For mechanism clarification, phenolsulfonphthalein (PSP, 5.0 mg/kg), a probe substrate of OAT 1, OAT 3, MRP 2 and MRP 4, was intravenously given to rats with and without a intravenous bolus of IS (10.0 mg/kg) to measure the effect of IS on the elimination of PSP. The results indicated that 20.0 and 40.0 mg/kg of oral indican significantly increased the area under concentration–time curve0-t (AUC0-t) of MTX by 231% and 259%, prolonged the mean residence time (MRT) by 223% and 204%, respectively. Furthermore, intravenous IS significantly increased the AUC0-t of PSP by 204% and decreased the Cl by 68%. In conclusion, oral indican increased the systemic exposure and MRT of MTX through inhibition on multiple anion transporters including OAT 1, OAT 3 and MRP 4 by the major metabolite IS. © 2017

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