Contributions of Hepatic and Intestinal Metabolism to the Disposition of Niclosamide, a Repurposed Drug with Poor Bioavailability

Xiaoyu Fan, Hongmin Li, Xinxin Ding, Qing Yu Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Niclosamide, an antiparasitic, has been repositioned as a potential therapeutic drug for systemic diseases based on its antiviral, anticancer, and anti-infection properties. However, low bioavailability limits its in vivo efficacy. Our aim was to determine whether metabolic disposition by microsomal P450 enzymes in liver and intestine influences niclosamide's bioavailability in vivo, by comparing niclosamide metabolism in wild-type, liver-Cpr-null (LCN), and intestinal epithelium-Cpr-null (IECN) mice. In vitro stability of niclosamide in microsomal incubations was greater in the intestine than in liver in the presence of NADPH, but it was much greater in liver than in intestine in the presence of UDPGA. NADPH-dependent niclosamide metabolism and hydroxy-niclosamide formation were inhibited in hepatic microsomes of LCN mice, but not IECN mice, compared with wild-type mice. In intestinal microsomal reactions, hydroxy-niclosamide formation was not detected, but rates of niclosamide-glucuronide formation were ∼10-fold greater than in liver, in wild-type, LCN, and IECN mice. Apparent Km and Vmax values for microsomal niclosamide-glucuronide formation showed large differences between the two tissues, with the intestine having higher Km (0.47 μM) and higher Vmax (15.8) than the liver (0.09 μM and 0.75, respectively). In vivo studies in LCN mice confirmed the essential role of hepatic P450 in hydroxy-niclosamide formation; however, pharmacokinetic profiles of oral niclosamide were only minimally changed in LCN mice, compared with wild-type mice, and the changes seem to reflect the compensatory increase in hepatic UDP-glucuronosyltransferase activity. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: These results suggest that efforts to increase the bioavailability of niclosamide by blocking its metabolism by P450 enzymes will unlikely be fruitful. In contrast, inhibition of niclosamide glucuronidation in both liver and intestine may prove effective for increasing niclosamide's bioavailability, thereby making it practical to repurpose this drug for treating systemic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)756-763
Number of pages8
JournalDrug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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