Inhibition of Carcinogen-Activating Cytochrome P450 Enzymes by Xenobiotic Chemicals in Relation to Antimutagenicity and Anticarcinogenicity

Toxicol Res. 2017 Apr;33(2):79-96. doi: 10.5487/TR.2017.33.2.079. Epub 2017 Apr 15.


A variety of xenobiotic chemicals, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), aryl- and heterocyclic amines and tobacco related nitrosamines, are ubiquitous environmental carcinogens and are required to be activated to chemically reactive metabolites by xenobiotic-metabolizing enzymes, including cytochrome P450 (P450 or CYP), in order to initiate cell transformation. Of various human P450 enzymes determined to date, CYP1A1, 1A2, 1B1, 2A13, 2A6, 2E1, and 3A4 are reported to play critical roles in the bioactivation of these carcinogenic chemicals. In vivo studies have shown that disruption of Cyp1b1 and Cyp2a5 genes in mice resulted in suppression of tumor formation caused by 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene and 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone, respectively. In addition, specific inhibitors for CYP1 and 2A enzymes are able to suppress tumor formation caused by several carcinogens in experimental animals in vivo, when these inhibitors are applied before or just after the administration of carcinogens. In this review, we describe recent progress, including our own studies done during past decade, on the nature of inhibitors of human CYP1 and CYP2A enzymes that have been shown to activate carcinogenic PAHs and tobacco-related nitrosamines, respectively, in humans. The inhibitors considered here include a variety of carcinogenic and/or non-carcinogenic PAHs and acethylenic PAHs, many flavonoid derivatives, derivatives of naphthalene, phenanthrene, biphenyl, and pyrene and chemopreventive organoselenium compounds, such as benzyl selenocyanate and benzyl selenocyanate; o-XSC, 1,2-, 1,3-, and 1,4-phenylenebis( methylene)selenocyanate.

Keywords: Chemical carcinogenesis; Cytochrome P450; Enzyme inhibition; Metabolic activation; Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; Tobacco-related nitrosamines.

Publication types

  • Review