Glucuronides from metabolites to medicines: a survey of the in vivo generation, chemical synthesis and properties of glucuronides†
Covering: 1998 to 2011. Previous review: Nat. Prod. Rep., 1998, 15, 173–186
The fourteen years that have passed since the previous review on this topic have seen a significant increase of interest in many aspects of glucuronide chemistry and biology. Glucuronides are the most important class of phase 2 xenobiotic metabolites and typically act in a detoxifying role. While this is generally true for O-alkyl and O-aryl glucuronides, a number of glucuronides are known to be pharmacologically active per se. Additionally the use of glucuronide prodrugs, notably to ameliorate the cytotoxicity of anticancer agents, has markedly increased. Whereas the previous review covered only the synthesis of O-glucuronides, we now include N-, S- and C-glucuronides also and discuss both synthetic and biological aspects. Synthetic methods for all classes of glucuronides are reviewed and updated, together with advances in the enzymatic synthesis of glucuronides and methods for their detection. Finally we discuss the biological reactivity of glucuronides where known, including the important morphine-6-glucuronide. A lively debate has continued for several years on whether O-acyl glucuronide metabolites of carboxylic acids are toxic, affecting both the safety assessment of well-used drugs and new drug development programmes. We summarise the current understanding, together with other known examples of interaction between glucuronides and macromolecules.