Expression of cytochromes P450 3A in mouse lung: effects of dexamethasone and pregnenolone 16alpha-carbonitrile

Arch Toxicol. 2003 Mar;77(3):145-9. doi: 10.1007/s00204-002-0426-7. Epub 2002 Dec 4.


Expression of cytochromes P450 3A (CYP3A) has been reported in the lung, but its regulation has received little attention. In the present study, we assessed lung levels of Cyp3a mRNA, protein and activity in control mice and in mice treated with either dexamethasone (DEX), pregnenolone 16alpha-carbonitrile (PCN) or a mixture of DEX+PCN. Lung expression of the pregnane X receptor (PXR) was also investigated. Constitutive levels of Cyp3a mRNA were found in the lung from control mice by polymerase chain reaction after reverse transcription of total RNA (RT-PCR). These levels were significantly increased (2.0-fold, P<0.05) in mice treated with DEX and further enhanced (2.7-fold increase, P<0.01) in mice treated with DEX+PCN. In control mice, basal levels of Cyp3a protein and activity were also found, as assessed by western blot and measure of testosterone 6beta-hydroxylation, respectively. In mice treated with DEX or DEX+PCN, changes in Cyp3a protein and activity exhibited the same pattern as those in Cyp3a mRNA. In contrast, PCN alone failed to trigger consistent increases in lung Cyp3a mRNA, protein and activity. PXR mRNA was not detected in the lung from control or PCN-treated mice by RT-PCR, but was found at significant levels in the lungs from mice treated with DEX or DEX+PCN. Our results show that expression of Cyp3a is upregulated by glucocorticoids in mouse lung, and that this effect is potentiated by antiglucocorticoids. This potentiation may involve PXR, expression of which is induced in the lung of glucocorticoid-treated mice.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / biosynthesis*
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microsomes / drug effects
  • Microsomes / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / biosynthesis*
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / genetics
  • Pregnenolone Carbonitrile / administration & dosage
  • Pregnenolone Carbonitrile / pharmacology*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Pregnenolone Carbonitrile
  • Dexamethasone
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating