Propiconazole increases reactive oxygen species levels in mouse hepatic cells in culture and in mouse liver by a cytochrome P450 enzyme mediated process

Chem Biol Interact. 2011 Oct 15;194(1):79-89. doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2011.08.002. Epub 2011 Aug 16.


Propiconazole induces hepatocellular carcinomas and hepatocellular adenomas in mice and promotes liver tumors in rats. Transcriptional, proteomic, metabolomic and biochemical studies of hepatic tissues from mice treated with propiconazole under the conditions of the chronic bioassay indicated that propiconazole induced oxidative stress. Here we sought to identify the source of the reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by propiconazole using both AML12 immortalized mouse hepatocytes in culture and liver tissues from mice. We also sought to further characterize the nature and effects of ROS formation induced by propiconazole treatment in mouse liver. ROS was induced in AML12 cells by propiconazole as measured by fluorescence detection and its formation was ameliorated by N-acetylcysteine. Propiconazole induced glutathione-S-transferase (GSTα) protein levels and increased the levels of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) in AML12 cells. The TBARS levels were decreased by diphenylene iodonium chloride (DPIC), a cytochrome P450 (CYP) reductase inhibitor revealing the role of CYPs in ROS generation. It has been previously reported that Cyp2b and Cyp3a proteins were induced in mouse liver by propiconazole and that Cyp2b and Cyp3a proteins undergo uncoupling of their CYP catalytic cycle releasing ROS. Therefore, salicylic acid hydroxylation was used as probe for ROS formation using microsomes from mice treated with propiconazole. These studies showed that levels of 2,3-dihydroxybenzoic acid (an ROS derived metabolite) were decreased by ketoconazole, melatonin and DPIC. In vivo, propiconazole increased hepatic malondialdehyde levels and GSTα protein levels and had no effect on hepatic catalase or superoxide dismutase activities. Based on these observations we conclude that propiconazole induces ROS in mouse liver by increasing CYP protein levels leading to increased ROS levels. Our data also suggest that propiconazole induces the hydroxyl radical as a major ROS form.

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / metabolism
  • Adenoma, Liver Cell / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mice
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects*
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Rats
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*
  • Triazoles / toxicity*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Triazoles
  • propiconazole
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System