Cytochrome P450 and liver diseases

Curr Drug Metab. 2004 Jun;5(3):273-82. doi: 10.2174/1389200043335531.


Cytochrome P-450 (CYPs) are involved in the metabolism of drugs, chemicals and endogenous substrates. The hepatic CYPs are also involved in the pathogenesis of several liver diseases. CYP-mediated activation of drugs to toxic metabolites induces hepatotoxicity. Well-known examples include acetaminophen and halothane. In some instances, covalent binding of the toxic metabolite to CYP leads to the formation of anti-CYP antibodies and immune-mediated hepatotoxicity (hydralazine, tienilic acid). Anti-CYP2D6 antibodies are also present in the serum of patients with type II autoimmune hepatitis, but the mechanism leading to their presence and their pathogenic significance remains unclear. Several studies support a role for CYP2E1 in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. In these conditions, enhanced CYP2E1 activity is associated with lipid peroxidation and the production of reactive oxygen species with secondary damage to cellular membranes and mitochondria. Because of its ability to activate carcinogens, a role for CYP2E1 as a cofactor for hepatocellular carcinoma has also been postulated. On the other hand, drug metabolism is impaired in patients with liver disease, particularly that mediated by CYPs. The content and activity of CYP1A, 2C19 and 3A appear to be particularly vulnerable to the effect of liver disease while CYP2D6, 2C9 and 2E1 are less affected. The pattern of CYPs isoenzymes alterations also differs according to the etiology of liver disease. A strong relationship between the activity of CYPs and the severity of cirrhosis has been demonstrated, but the usefulness of measuring CYP activity to assess hepatic functional reserve remains uncertain.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases / enzymology*
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism


  • Isoenzymes
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System