Cytochrome P450 4A fatty acid omega hydroxylases

Curr Drug Metab. 2001 Sep;2(3):265-81. doi: 10.2174/1389200013338423.


The Cytochrome P450 4A subfamily is one of eighteen subfamilies in the CYP4 family and presently consists of twenty individual forms in nine different mammalian species. The major substrates for CYP4A forms are fatty acids, but recent studies have shown other non-fatty acid substrates may be metabolized by specific CYP4A forms. The physiological and metabolic functions of the CYP4A subfamily have not been elucidated, but the ability of CYP4A forms to metabolize medium and long chain length fatty acids at their omega (omega)-carbon atom has generated significant interest because of the possible role that omega-hydroxylated fatty acids may have in cell signalling processes and as an alternative pathway for fatty acid metabolism. A number of different compounds or physiological conditions have been shown to regulate the expression of CYP4A forms in liver and/or kidney. Several CYP4A forms may serve as a marker for the exposure to compounds that are classified as peroxisome proliferators. There is also considerable interest why multiple CYP4A forms exist in different tissues. Recent studies in the rat and human indicate that other CYP4 forms besides CYP4A forms may be responsible for the metabolism of arachidonic acid to its omega-hydroxy product. The focus of this review will be to summarize recent studies that have characterized the substrate specificity of rat, rabbit and human CYP4A forms and discuss the significance of CYP4A-mediated hydroxylation of fatty acids. In addition, dietary effects or novel compounds that have been reported to regulate CYP4A expression in the rat and mouse will be discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Animals
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP4A
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / biosynthesis
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism*
  • Rabbits
  • Rats
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Substrate Specificity


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP4A