CYP Suppression in Human Hepatocytes by Monomethyl Auristatin E, the Payload in Brentuximab Vedotin (Adcetris®), is Associated with Microtubule Disruption

  • Francis S. Wolenski
  • Cindy Q. Xia
  • Bingli Ma
  • Tae H. Han
  • Wen C. Shyu
  • Suresh K. BalaniEmail author
Original Research Article


Background and Objectives

Monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE), the toxin linked to CD30-specific monoclonal antibody of Adcetris® (brentuximab vedotin), is a potent anti-microtubule agent. Brentuximab vedotin has been approved for the treatment of relapsed or refractory Hodgkin lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma. Cytochrome P450 (CYP) induction assessment of MMAE was conducted in human hepatocytes to assess DDI potentials and its translation to clinic.


MMAE was incubated at 1–1000 nM with cultured primary human hepatocytes for 72 h, and CYP1A2, CYP2B6, and CYP3A4 mRNA expression was assessed by quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and CYP-specific probe substrate by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry, along with microtubule disruption by immunofluorescence staining using anti-β-tubulin antibody and imaging.


MMAE up to 10 nM had no significant effect on CYP1A2, CYP2B6, and CYP3A4 mRNA expression and activity, whereas at higher concentrations of 100- and 1000-nM MMAE, the CYP mRNA expression and activity were diminished substantially. Further investigation showed that the degree of CYP suppression was paralleled by that of microtubule disruption by MMAE, as measured by increase in the number of β-tubulin-positive aggregates. At the clinical dose, the concentration of MMAE was 7 nM which did not show any significant CYP suppression or microtubule disruption in hepatocytes.


MMAE was not a CYP inducer in human hepatocytes. However, it caused a concentration-dependent CYP mRNA suppression and activity. The CYP suppression was associated with microtubule disruption, supporting the reports that intact microtubule architecture is required for CYP regulations. The absence of CYP suppression and microtubule disruption in vitro at the clinical plasma concentrations of MMAE (< 10 nM) explains the lack of pharmacokinetic drug interaction between brentuximab vedotin and midazolam, a sensitive CYP3A substrate, reported in patients.



We thank Sekisui XenoTech, LLC for work with CYP induction study, Steve Alley of Seattle Genetics, and Adedigbo Fasanmade of Takeda for the helpful discussions.


No funding source to declare.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors were compensated employees of either Seattle Genetics, Inc. (THH) or Takeda Pharmaceuticals International Co. (FSW, BM, CQX, WCS, and SKB) when this research was conducted.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francis S. Wolenski
    • 1
  • Cindy Q. Xia
    • 2
  • Bingli Ma
    • 2
  • Tae H. Han
    • 3
  • Wen C. Shyu
    • 2
  • Suresh K. Balani
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Drug Safety Research and EvaluationTakeda Pharmaceuticals International Co.CambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Drug Metabolism and PharmacokineticsTakeda Pharmaceuticals International Co.CambridgeUSA
  3. 3.Seattle Genetics Inc.BothellUSA

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