Evidence for the involvement of a distinct form of cytochrome P450 3A in the oxidation of digitoxin by rat liver microsomes

J Biochem Toxicol. 1992 Spring;7(1):53-64. doi: 10.1002/jbt.2570070110.


The preceding paper (B. Gemzik, D. Greenway, C. Nevins, and A. Parkinson (1992). Regulation of two electrophoretically distinct proteins recognized by antibody against rat liver cytochrome P450 3A1. J. Biochem. Toxicol., 7 (43-52).) described the regulation of two rat liver microsomal proteins (50- and 51-kDa) recognized by antibody against P450 3A1. It was also shown that changes in the levels of the 51-kDa 3A protein were usually paralleled by changes in the rate of testosterone 2 beta-, 6 beta-, and 15 beta-hydroxylation. The present study demonstrates that age- and sex-dependent changes in the 50-kDa protein were paralleled by changes in the rate of digitoxin oxidation to digitoxigenin bisdigitoxoside. Induction or suppression of the 50-kDa protein by treatment of rats with various xenobiotics were also paralleled by changes in the rate of digitoxin oxidation. These results suggest that, contrary to previous assumptions, the conversion of digitoxin to digitoxigenin bisdigitoxoside and the conversion of testosterone to 2 beta-, 6 beta-, and 15 beta-hydroxytestosterone are primarily catalyzed by different forms of P450 3A. Further evidence for this conclusion was obtained from studies in which the suicide inhibitor, chloramphenicol, was administered to mature female rats previously treated with pregnenolone-16 alpha-carbonitrile (PCN), which induces both the 50-kDa and the 51-kDa protein. Treatment of mature female rats with PCN alone caused a marked increase (16- to 18-fold) in the 6 beta-hydroxylation of testosterone and the rate of digitoxin oxidation. Treatment of PCN-induced rats with chloramphenicol caused a approximately 70% decrease in liver microsomal testosterone 6 beta-hydroxylation, but had no effect on the rate of conversion of digitoxin to digitoxigenin bisdigitoxoside. The oxidation of testosterone by purified 3A1 (a 51-kDa protein) was also inhibited by chloramphenicol in a time- and reduced nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH)-dependent manner. In addition to testosterone and chloramphenicol, purified 3A1 also metabolized troleandomycin, but it was unable to convert digitoxin to digitoxigenin bisdigitoxoside. Testosterone inhibited the microsomal oxidation of digitoxin, but digitoxin did not inhibit testosterone oxidation. This suggests that testosterone is a substrate for the 3A enzyme that metabolizes digitoxin, but that this form of P450 3A does not contribute significantly to testosterone oxidation by rat liver microsomes.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Chloramphenicol / pharmacology
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Digitoxin / metabolism*
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Testosterone / pharmacology
  • Troleandomycin / pharmacology
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacology


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Xenobiotics
  • Testosterone
  • Chloramphenicol
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Troleandomycin
  • Digitoxin