Detoxifying activity in pig livers and hepatocytes intended for xenotherapy

Transplantation. 1999 Nov 27;68(10):1437-43. doi: 10.1097/00007890-199911270-00002.


Background: Both livers and hepatocytes from pigs have been proposed for the treatment of end-stage liver diseases, as an alternative to allogeneic liver transplants. However, little is known of the capability of porcine hepatocytes to fulfill the biotransformation pathways of toxic compounds, including those released from livers in acute failure. We have studied the activity and expression of detoxifying enzymes in porcine livers and in cultured hepatocytes and their induction by phenobarbital.

Methods: Cytochromes P450 (CYP) 1A, 2B, and 3A and GST-like activities were tested with the following specific substrates: 7-ethoxyresorufin, 7-pentoxyresorufin, nifedipine, testosterone, 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene, 1,2-dichloro-4-nitrobenzene, and ethacrinic acid. CYP 1A1/2-, 2B1/2-, 2E1- and 3A4-related and GSTalpha proteins were analyzed by Western blotting and CYP 1A1/2, 2B1/2, 2C6, 2E1, and 3A4, aldehyde dehydrogenase, epoxide hydrolase, and GSTalpha-like RNA by Northern blotting.

Results: Enzymatic activities reflecting the expression of CYP 1A-, CYP 2B-, CYP 2E1-, and CYP 3A-like genes, that is, ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase, pentoxyresorufin-O-deethylase, nifedipine oxidase and testosterone 6beta-hydroxylase, and chlorzoxazone 6-hydroxylase, were identified in pig livers. CYP 1A and CYP 2E1, GSTalpha-like proteins, CYP 1A, 2C, and 2E, epoxide hydrolase, aldehyde dehydrogenase, and GST like RNA were expressed in vivo and in vitro. CYP 2B and CYP 3A RNA and proteins, and their associated activities were induced by phenobarbital.

Conclusions: Porcine hepatocytes express the most important biotransformation enzymes and their corresponding activities and RNA. Thus, livers and hepatocytes from pigs can detoxify a large spectrum of exogenous and endogenous compounds, which makes them a convenient substitute for allogeneic transplants for patients with liver failure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Transplantation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1 / metabolism
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / enzymology
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / genetics
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glutathione Transferase / genetics
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism*
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Liver / cytology*
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Swine
  • Transplantation, Heterologous*


  • Isoenzymes
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP1A1
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • Epoxide Hydrolases