Widespread cellular distribution of aldehyde oxidase in human tissues found by immunohistochemistry staining

Histol Histopathol. 2001 Jul;16(3):745-53. doi: 10.14670/HH-16.745.


Aldehyde oxidase (EC is a xenobiotic metabolizing enzyme that catalyzes a variety of organic aldehydes and N-heterocyclic compounds. However, its precise pathophysiological function in humans, other than its xenobiotic metabolism, remains unknown. In order to gain a better understanding of the role of this enzyme, it is important to know its exact localization in human tissues. In this study, we investigated the distribution of aldehyde oxidase at the cellular level in a variety of human tissues by immunohistochemistry. The enzyme was found to be widespread in respiratory, digestive, urogenital, and endocrine tissues, though we also observed a cell-specific localization in the various tissues studied. In the respiratory system, it was particularly abundant in epithelial cells from the trachea and bronchium, as well as alveolar cells. In the digestive system, aldehyde oxidase was observed in surface epithelia of the small and large intestines, in addition to hepatic cells. Furthermore, the proximal, distal, and collecting tubules of the kidney were immunostained with various intensities, while glomerulus tissues were not. In epididymus and prostate tissues, staining was observed in the ductuli epididymidis and glandular epithelia. Moreover, the adrenal gland, cortex, and notably the zona reticularis, showed strong immunostaining. This prevalent tissue distribution of aldehyde oxidase in humans suggests some additional pathophysiological functions besides xenobiotic metabolism. Accordingly, some possible roles are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Aldehyde Oxidase
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / immunology
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / metabolism*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Digestive System / enzymology
  • Endocrine Glands / enzymology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Respiratory System / enzymology
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Urogenital System / enzymology


  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases
  • Aldehyde Oxidase