Up- and down-modulation of liver cytochrome P450 activities and associated events in two murine malaria models

Malar J. 2010 Mar 22;9:81. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-9-81.


Background: The mechanisms by which malaria up and down-regulates CYP activities are not understood yet. It is also unclear whether CYP activities are modulated during non-lethal malaria infections. This study was undertaken to evaluate the time course of CYP alterations in lethal (Plasmodium berghei ANKA) and non-lethal (Plasmodium chabaudi chabaudi) murine malaria. Additionally, hypotheses on the association of CYP depression with enhanced nitric oxide (NO) production, and of CYP2a5 induction with endoplasmic reticulum dysfunction, enhanced haem metabolism and oxidative stress were examined as well.

Methods: Female DBA-2 and C57BL/6 mice were infected with P.berghei ANKA or P. chabaudi and killed at different post-infection days. Infection was monitored by parasitaemia rates and clinical signs. NO levels were measured in the serum. Activities of CYP1a (ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase), 2b (benzyloxyresorufin-O-debenzylase), 2a5 (coumarin-7-hydroxylase) and uridine-diphosphoglucuronyl-transferase (UGT) were determined in liver microsomes. Glutathione-S-transferase (GST) activity and concentrations of gluthatione (GSH) and thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS) were determined in the liver. Levels of glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) were evaluated by immunoblotting, while mRNAs of haemoxygenase-1 (HO-1) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) were determined by quantitative RT-PCR.

Results: Plasmodium berghei depressed CYP1a and 2b and induced 2a5 in DBA-2 mice. In P.berghei-infected C57BL/6 mice CYP activities remained unaltered. In both strains, GST and UGT were not affected by P.berghei. Plasmodium c. chabaudi depressed CYP1a and 2b and induced 2a5 activities on the day of peak parasitaemia or near this day. CYP2a5 induction was associated with over-expression of HO-1 and enhanced oxidative stress, but it was not associated with GRP78 induction, a marker of endoplasmic reticulum stress. Plasmodium chabaudi increased serum NO on days near the parasitaemia peak in both strains. Although not elevating serum NO, P.berghei enhanced iNOS mRNA expression in the liver.

Conclusion: Down-regulation of CYP1a and 2b and induction of 2a5 occurred in lethal and non-lethal infections when parasitaemia rates were high. A contribution of NO for depression of CYP2b cannot be ruled out. Results were consistent with the view that CYP2a5 and HO-1 are concurrently up-regulated and suggested that CYP2a5 induction may occur in the absence of enhanced endoplasmic reticulum stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Down-Regulation
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone BiP
  • Female
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Liver / parasitology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Malaria / enzymology*
  • Malaria / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide / blood
  • Parasitemia / enzymology
  • Parasitemia / parasitology
  • Plasmodium berghei / pathogenicity*
  • Plasmodium chabaudi / pathogenicity*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Up-Regulation


  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone BiP
  • Hspa5 protein, mouse
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System