The co-ordinated induction of several hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes is a common feature in the regulation of drug biotransformation under normal and pathological conditions. In the present study the activity and expression of bilirubin UDP-glucuronosyltransferase (UGT1A1) were investigated in livers of BioBreeding/Worcester diabetic, fasted and acetone-treated rats. Bilirubin glucuronidation was stimulated by all three treatments; this was correlated with an increase in the UGT1A1 protein concentration in hepatic microsomes. Transcriptional induction of UGT1A1 was also observed in diabetes and starvation but not with acetone treatment, which apparently caused translational stabilization of the enzyme protein. The hormonal/metabolic alterations in diabetes and starvation might be a model for postnatal development. The sudden interruption of maternal glucose supply signals the enhanced expression of UGT1A1, giving a novel explanation for the physiological induction of bilirubin glucuronidation in newborn infants.

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