The role of epoxide hydrolases in health and disease

Arch Toxicol. 2014 Nov;88(11):2013-32. doi: 10.1007/s00204-014-1371-y. Epub 2014 Sep 24.


Epoxide hydrolases (EH) are ubiquitously expressed in all living organisms and in almost all organs and tissues. They are mainly subdivided into microsomal and soluble EH and catalyze the hydration of epoxides, three-membered-cyclic ethers, to their corresponding dihydrodiols. Owning to the high chemical reactivity of xenobiotic epoxides, microsomal EH is considered protective enzyme against mutagenic and carcinogenic initiation. Nevertheless, several endogenously produced epoxides of fatty acids function as important regulatory mediators. By mediating the formation of cytotoxic dihydrodiol fatty acids on the expense of cytoprotective epoxides of fatty acids, soluble EH is considered to have cytotoxic activity. Indeed, the attenuation of microsomal EH, achieved by chemical inhibitors or preexists due to specific genetic polymorphisms, is linked to the aggravation of the toxicity of xenobiotics, as well as the risk of cancer and inflammatory diseases, whereas soluble EH inhibition has been emerged as a promising intervention against several diseases, most importantly cardiovascular, lung and metabolic diseases. However, there is reportedly a significant overlap in substrate selectivity between microsomal and soluble EH. In addition, microsomal and soluble EH were found to have the same catalytic triad and identical molecular mechanism. Consequently, the physiological functions of microsomal and soluble EH are also overlapped. Thus, studying the biological effects of microsomal or soluble EH alterations needs to include the effects on both the metabolism of reactive metabolites, as well as epoxides of fatty acids. This review focuses on the multifaceted role of EH in the metabolism of xenobiotic and endogenous epoxides and the impact of EH modulations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / genetics
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Epoxy Compounds / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microsomes / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity


  • Epoxy Compounds
  • Xenobiotics
  • Epoxide Hydrolases