The cytochrome P450 subfamily CYP3A belongs to the most important detoxification enzymes. Because the main CYP3A isoforms are not polymorphic and therefore detract themselves from genetic screening as a potent prediction marker for drug metabolism or induction effects, effective in vitro testing of a putative drug-CYP3A interaction is indicated. We used mouse liver microsomes treated with the model drug phenytoin to set up an effective and reliable in vitro test system. A metabolic assay analyzing 7-alkoxyresorufin-O-dealkylation showed specific CYP3A-dependent 7-benzyloxyresorufin oxidation (BROD). This was confirmed by testing other alkoxyresorufins (7-ethoxy-, 7-methoxy-, and 7-pentoxyresorufin) in mice and correlation of the data with testosterone 6beta-hydroxylation and a plethora of isoform-specific chemical inhibitors (orphenadrine, chloramphenicol, nifedipine, ketoconazole, and sulfaphenazole). Isoform-specific expression and induction of CYP3A11 in mouse liver was tested by RNase protection assay, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and immunoblot. With the BROD assay, we could clearly dissect CYP3A11 from other P450s induced by phenytoin-like CYP2C29, CYP2B9, CYP1A1, and CYP4A. We conclude that the BROD assay is a specific tool to assign CYP3A induction by drugs or other chemicals, at least in a mouse model system.
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