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Rapid oxidation of ring methyl groups is the primary mechanism of biotransformation of gemfibrozil by the fungus Cunninghamella elegans

Kang, Su-Il, Kang, Seo-Young, Kanaly, Robert A., Lee, Eunjung, Lim, Yoongho, Hur, Hor-Gil
Archives of microbiology 2009 v.191 no.6 pp. 509-517
Cunninghamella elegans, absorption, aromatic compounds, biochemical pathways, biodegradation, biotransformation, fungi, humans, metabolism, metabolites, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, oxidation
The hypolipidemic agent gemfibrozil (GEM), which has been studied for its metabolism in humans and animals, was investigated to elucidate its primary metabolism by Cunninghamella elegans. The fungus produced ten metabolites (FM1-FM9 and FM6') from the biotransformation of GEM. Based on LC/MS/MS and NMR analyses, a major metabolite, FM7, was identified as 2'-hydroxymethyl GEM. FM6 was considered to be 5'-hydroxymethyl GEM, after comparison of results LC/MS, LC/MS/MS, and UV absorption spectra to FM7. The combined concentration of FM6 and FM7 was found to increase up to 0.83 mM by day 2, and then decreased gradually with incubation time, followed by a noticeable increase in the biotransformation product, FM1, up to 0.86 mM by day 15. NMR analyses confirmed that FM1 was 2',5'-dihydroxymethyl GEM. Further minor oxidations of the aromatic ring and carboxylic acid intermediates were also detected. Based upon these findings, the major fungal metabolic pathway for GEM is likely to occur via production of 2',5'-dihydroxymethyl GEM from 2'-hydroxymethyl GEM. These relatively rapid and diverse biotransformations of GEM by C. elegans suggest that depending upon conditions, it may also follow a similar biodegradation fate when released into the natural environment.