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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 28, 2016

In vitro activity of Lycium barbarum (Goji) against major human phase I metabolism enzymes

  • Rui Liu , Teresa W. Tam , Jingqin Mao , Ammar Salem , John T. Arnason , Anthony Krantis and Brian C. Foster EMAIL logo


Background: Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) has been used as traditional Chinese medicine and a functional food in China. Goji tea may interact with drugs such as warfarin by inhibiting the cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2C9, and this study was undertaken to characterize the effect of Goji products on CYP2C9/19-, CYP2D6 *1/*10-, CYP3A4/5/7-, CYP19-, and flavin-containing monooxygenase (FMO) 3-mediated metabolism.

Methods: Goji juice, water, and ethanol extracts were examined for their effect on CYP2C9/19-, 2D6-, 3A4/5/7-, 4A11-, CYP19-, and FMO3-mediated metabolism by using in vitro bioassay. The mechanism-based inactivation (MBI) of Goji juice on CYP3A4 was also examined.

Results: Data indicates that both fresh juice and commercially available juice caused strong inhibition (over 75 %) of most of the major CYP450 enzymes and moderate inhibition of FMO3 (30–60 %). Compared to juice, the Goji cold/hot water extracts effected low inhibition (below 30 %) of these enzymes. Ethanol (80 %) extracts exhibit the strongest inhibition on CYP2C9 and 2C19 (over 90 %). The inhibition pattern of dried and fresh berry extract and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)-UV fingerprints were similar.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that Goji products (berries, tea, tincture, and juice) can inhibit phase I drug metabolism enzymes and have the potential to affect the safety and efficacy of therapeutic products.


The authors gratefully acknowledge the support from Health Canada.

Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

Research funding: None declared.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.

Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2015-6-8
Accepted: 2016-5-15
Published Online: 2016-6-28
Published in Print: 2016-9-1

©2016 by De Gruyter

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