Age-dependent expression of cytochrome P-450s in rat liver

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 Oct 21;1097(3):187-92. doi: 10.1016/0925-4439(91)90034-7.


Age-related changes in the levels of multiple forms of cytochrome P-450 as well as in the testosterone hydroxylation activities of hepatic microsomes of male and female rats of different ages from 1 week to 104 weeks (24 months) were investigated. The total cytochrome P-450 measured photometrically did not change much with age in either male and female rats. Testosterone 2 alpha-, 2 beta-, 6 beta-, 15 alpha-, 16 beta-hydroxylation activities of male rats were much higher than those in female rats and were induced developmentally. These activities in male rats declined with aging to the very low level in female rats by 104 weeks of age. Testosterone 7 alpha-hydroxylation activity was maximum at 3 weeks of age in rats of both sexes. The levels of individual cytochrome P-450s were measured by immunoblotting. P450IA1 and IA2 (3-methylcholanthrene-inducible forms) and P450IIB1 and IIB2 (phenobarbital-inducible forms) were detected at low levels in rats of both sexes at all ages. P450IIA2, IIC11 and IVA2 were detected in male rats only and were induced developmentally. These male-specific forms disappeared in male rat liver at 104 weeks of age. P450IIC12, a typical female-specific form, was induced developmentally in female rats and was also detected in male rats at 3 and 104 weeks of age. P450IIIA2 (testosterone 6 beta-hydroxylase) was induced developmentally in male rats, but disappeared when the rats were 104 weeks of age. In female rats, P450IIIA2 was detected only at 1 and 3 weeks of age. P450IIA1, IIC6, IIE1 and IVA3 were detected in rats of both sexes at any age. P450IIC6 and IVA3 were induced developmentally and detected at a similar level in rats of both sexes. The level of P450IIA1 was maximum at 3 weeks of age in rats of both sexes. The changes in the level of P450IIE1 during aging were small compared with the changes in other cytochrome P-450s used in this study. These observations provide concrete evidence to our earlier hypothesis that each of the forms of cytochrome P-450 in male rats alter with aging in different patterns resulting in a practical feminization of over-all cytochrome P-450 composition at old age.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / analysis
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Hydroxylation
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / chemistry
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / metabolism*
  • Testosterone / metabolism*


  • Testosterone
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • steroid hormone 6-beta-hydroxylase
  • testosterone 7-alpha-hydroxylase, hamster