Ever wonder why a certain medication may work great for a friend and do nothing for you?  One reason could be your genes.

Let’s take fexofenadine (Allegra) for example.  You have watery eyes and a drippy nose during spring allergy season and pop an Allegra.  There is a lot that goes on in your body before that medication brings about allergy relief.  It has to dissolve, be absorbed, get transported to the cells where it is going to act — and it has to stay inside of those target cells.

Staying inside the cells instead of the medicine being transported back out again is where genetics comes in to play.

Some medications and other toxins are transported back out of cells by an ATP-binding cassette transporter protein encoded by the ABCB1 gene.  In the epithelial cells that line your intestines, the ABCB1 proteins are involved in pumping substances back into the intestinal lumen.  So imagine if you take an Allegra, it dissolves, gets absorbed, and then part of that gets pumped back into the intestines to be eliminated. Genetic variants in ABCB1 affect how much stays in the cells vs getting eliminated (through intestines, bile, urine).

In general, it seems like a good thing for the body to get rid of a substance that it thinks might be toxic. While an allergy medication not working quite as well is not that big of a deal, the real problem comes in when trying to keep chemotherapy drugs inside of cancer cells in order to act upon them.  This gene has been studied in depth for cancer treatment drugs.

ABCB1 gene (multidrug resistance protein, p-glycoprotein):

This rest of this article is available for patrons through Patreon.

 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Diet / Gene Interaction

Mediterranean Diet and Your Genes

This website is all about how your genes make a difference in your body’s response to dietary choices.  Some people are awesome at breaking down dietary carbohydrates; others are champs at converting carrots into vitamin Read more…

Diet / Gene Interaction

Turning up the internal heat for weight loss- UCP1 genetic variants

The dream for overweight people: just turn up the internal heat and naturally burn off the extra fat. It turns out that genetically some people do have more active ‘internal heat’ and they actually are burning Read more…

Detox

BPA: How Your Genes Influence BPA Detoxification

BPA, a chemical found in some plastics, has been linked to a variety of effects on people including obesity, insulin resistance, and epigenetic effects on the fetus.  It is everywhere in our food supply. In Read more…