Sexually dimorphic regulation and induction of P450s by the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR)

Toxicology. 2009 Feb 4;256(1-2):53-64. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2008.11.002. Epub 2008 Nov 11.


The constitutive androstane receptor (CAR) is a xenosensing nuclear receptor and regulator of cytochrome P450s (CYPs). However, the role of CAR as a basal regulator of CYP expression nor its role in sexually dimorphic responses have been thoroughly studied. We investigated basal regulation and sexually dimorphic regulation and induction by the potent CAR activator TCPOBOP and the moderate CAR activator Nonylphenol (NP). NP is an environmental estrogen and one of the most commonly found environmental toxicants in Europe and the United States. Previous studies have demonstrated that NP induces several CYPs in a sexually dimorphic manner, however the role of CAR in regulating NP-mediated sexually dimorphic P450 expression and induction has not been elucidated. Therefore, wild-type and CAR-null male and female mice were treated with honey as a carrier, NP, or TCPOBOP and CYP expression monitored by QPCR and Western blotting. CAR basally regulates the expression of Cyp2c29, Cyp2b13, and potentially Cyp2b10 as demonstrated by QPCR. Furthermore, we observed a shift in the testosterone 6alpha/15alpha-hydroxylase ratio in untreated CAR-null female mice to the male pattern, which indicates an alteration in androgen status and suggests a role for androgens as CAR inverse agonists. Xenobiotic-treatments with NP and TCPOBOP induced Cyp2b10, Cyp2c29, and Cyp3a11 in a CAR-mediated fashion; however NP only induced these CYPs in females and TCPOBOP induced these CYPs in both males and females. Interestingly, Cyp2a4, was only induced in wild-type male mice by TCPOBOP suggesting Cyp2a4 induction is not sensitive to CAR-mediated induction in females. Overall, TCPOBOP and NP show similar CYP induction profiles in females, but widely different profiles in males potentially related to lower sensitivity of males to either indirect or moderate CAR activators such as NP. In summary, CAR regulates the basal and chemically inducible expression of several sexually dimorphic xenobiotic metabolizing P450s in a manner that varies depending on the ligand.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Cytosol / drug effects
  • Cytosol / enzymology
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Enzyme Induction / physiology*
  • Female
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle Relaxants, Central / pharmacology
  • Paralysis / chemically induced
  • Paralysis / physiopathology
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • RNA / biosynthesis
  • RNA / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / agonists
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / physiology*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / agonists
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Zoxazolamine / pharmacology


  • Constitutive Androstane Receptor
  • Muscle Relaxants, Central
  • Phenols
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Transcription Factors
  • RNA
  • nonylphenol
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Zoxazolamine
  • Steroid Hydroxylases