Rat cytochromes P450 (CYP) specifically contribute to the reductive bioactivation of AQ4N, an alkylaminoanthraquinone-di-N-oxide anticancer prodrug

Xenobiotica. 1999 Nov;29(11):1115-22. doi: 10.1080/004982599237994.


1. The bioreductive activation of the alkylaminoanthraquinone di-N-oxide prodrug AQ4N has been characterized in rat hepatic tissue using HPLC. 2. AQ4N was shown to be metabolized to two products, namely AQM, the two electron reduced mono-N-oxide, and AQ4, the four electron reduced active cytotoxic agent. 3. Metabolism was shown to occur in microsomes with an apparent Km = 30.29 microM and Vmax = 1.05 nmol/mg/min. 4. Bioreduction was dependent on anaerobic conditions and the presence of the reduced cofactor NADPH. Ketoconazole (100 microM) and carbon monoxide both inhibited AQ4N metabolism inferring a role for cytochrome P450 (CYP). 5. Microsomes from phenobarbitone and isoniazid-pretreated animals significantly (p < 0.05) enhanced the formation of AQ4 from AQ4N indicating a role for CYP2B and 2E respectively. The involvement of both CYP2B and 2E was confirmed by the use of CYP-specific inhibitors. 6. In conclusion, the involvement of rat hepatic CYP in the reductive bioactivation of the novel antitumour prodrug AQ4N has been established in detail for the first time. These findings highlight an important interspecies difference between the metabolism of AQ4N in rat and man which was shown earlier to be mediated by CYP3A enzymes. The pharmacological significance of this is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones / metabolism*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism*
  • Biotransformation
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Prodrugs / metabolism*
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism


  • Anthraquinones
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Prodrugs
  • Proteins
  • AQ4N
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System