Rutaecarpine (RUT), evodiamine (EOD), and dehydroevodiamine (DHED) are the three main bioactive indoloquinazoline alkaloids isolated from Euodia rutaecarpa, a widely prescribed traditional Chinese medicine. Here, the structure-activity relationships of these analogs for aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) activation were explored by use of Ahr-deficient (Ahr2/2) mice, primary hepatocyte cultures, luciferase reporter gene assays, in silico ligand-docking studies, and metabolomics. In vitro, both mRNA analysis of AHR target genes in mouse primary hepatocytes and luciferase reporter assays in hepatocarcinoma cell lines demonstrated that RUT, EOD, and DHED significantly activated AHR, with an efficacy order of RUT > DHED > EOD. Ligand-docking analysis predicted that the methyl substitute at the N-14 atom was a key factor affecting AHR activation. In vivo, EOD was poorly orally absorbed and failed to activate AHR, whereas RUT and DHED markedly upregulated expression of the hepatic AHR gene battery in wild-type mice, but not in Ahr2/2 mice. Furthermore, RUT, EOD, and DHED were not hepatotoxic at the doses used; however, RUT and DHED disrupted bile acid homeostasis in an AHR-dependent manner. These findings revealed that the methyl group at the N-14 atom of these analogs and their pharmacokinetic behaviors were the main determinants for AHR activation, and suggest that attention should be given to monitoring bile acid metabolism in the clinical use of E. rutaecarpa.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmaceutical Science