Expression of biotransformation enzymes in human fetal olfactory mucosa: potential roles in developmental toxicity

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 Jun 1;165(2):158-62. doi: 10.1006/taap.2000.8923.


High levels of cytochrome P450 are present in the olfactory mucosa (OM) in mammalian animals and contribute to the known tissue-selective toxicity of numerous chemical compounds. Olfactory toxicity in the perinatal period may have a greater impact on behavior, growth, and development than in adults. To establish a molecular basis for determining the risk of developmental toxicity in OM, the expression of several cytochrome P450 enzymes, as well as NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase and microsomal epoxide hydrolase, was examined in hepatic and nasal microsomes prepared from human fetal tissues at gestational day 91-125. The relative microsomal concentrations of these biotransformation enzymes were determined on immunoblots. Expression of CYP2A, CYP2J2, the reductase, and epoxide hydrolase was detected in both OM and liver. The microsomal levels of these enzymes were generally lower in OM than in liver of the same fetuses, except for the CYP2A-related proteins, which were expressed in OM at much higher levels. OM expression of CYP2A6, CYP2A13, CYP2B6, and CYP2J2 mRNAs was detected using RNA-PCR. These results document, for the first time, prenatal expression of xenobiotic-bioactivating cytochrome P450 enzymes in human OM and suggest that the human fetal OM may be a preferred target tissue for the toxicity of maternally derived chemical compounds that are activated by the CYP2A enzymes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biotransformation
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2J2
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microsomes / enzymology
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase / metabolism
  • Olfactory Mucosa / embryology*
  • Olfactory Mucosa / enzymology*
  • Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Pregnancy
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • CYP2J2 protein, human
  • Isoenzymes
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Oxygenases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2J2
  • NADPH-Ferrihemoprotein Reductase
  • Epoxide Hydrolases