Rat cytochromes P450 oxidize 2-nitrophenol, a human metabolite of carcinogenic 2-nitroanisole.

OBJECTIVES: 2-Nitrophenol (2-NP) is the major detoxification metabolite of an important industrial pollutant and a potent carcinogen, 2-nitroanisole (2-NA). Characterization of the products of 2-NP metabolism by rat hepatic microsomes containing cytochromes P450 (CYPs) and identification of the major CYP enzymes participating in this process are aims of this study.

METHODS: HPLC with UV detection was employed for the separation and characterization of 2-NP metabolites. Inducers and inhibitors of CYPs and rat recombinant CYPs were used to characterize the enzymes participating in 2-NP oxidation.

RESULTS: Rat hepatic microsomes oxidize 2-NP to its hydroxylated metabolite, 2,5-dihydroxynitrobenzene (2,5-DNB). No nitroreductive metabolism leading to the formation of o-aminophenol was evident when using rat hepatic microsomes. Selective CYP inhibitors and hepatic microsomes of rats pre-treated with specific CYP inducers were used to characterize CYPs oxidizing 2-NP in rat livers. Based on these studies, we attribute most of 2-NP oxidation in rat liver to CYP2E1 and 3A, followed by CYP2D and 2C. Among recombinant rat CYP enzymes tested in this study, CYP2E1 and 2C11 were the most effective enzymes oxidizing 2-NP. Oxidation of 2-NP by rat CYP2E1 exhibits the Michaelis-Menten kinetics, having the Km value of 0.35 mM.

CONCLUSION: The results found in this study, the first report on the metabolism of 2-NP by rat hepatic microsomes and rat CYP enzymes, demonstrate that CYP2E1 is the major enzyme oxidizing this compound in rat liver.

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