The Multifaceted Role of Epoxide Hydrolases in Human Health and Disease

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Dec 22;22(1):13. doi: 10.3390/ijms22010013.


Epoxide hydrolases (EHs) are key enzymes involved in the detoxification of xenobiotics and biotransformation of endogenous epoxides. They catalyze the hydrolysis of highly reactive epoxides to less reactive diols. EHs thereby orchestrate crucial signaling pathways for cell homeostasis. The EH family comprises 5 proteins and 2 candidate members, for which the corresponding genes are not yet identified. Although the first EHs were identified more than 30 years ago, the full spectrum of their substrates and associated biological functions remain partly unknown. The two best-known EHs are EPHX1 and EPHX2. Their wide expression pattern and multiple functions led to the development of specific inhibitors. This review summarizes the most important points regarding the current knowledge on this protein family and highlights the particularities of each EH. These different enzymes can be distinguished by their expression pattern, spectrum of associated substrates, sub-cellular localization, and enzymatic characteristics. We also reevaluated the pathogenicity of previously reported variants in genes that encode EHs and are involved in multiple disorders, in light of large datasets that were made available due to the broad development of next generation sequencing. Although association studies underline the pleiotropic and crucial role of EHs, no data on high-effect variants are confirmed to date.

Keywords: EPHX; epoxide hydrolase; fatty acids; genetics; mEH; sEH.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biocatalysis
  • Biotransformation
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / genetics
  • Epoxide Hydrolases / metabolism*
  • Epoxy Compounds / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic
  • Humans
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Substrate Specificity
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*


  • Epoxy Compounds
  • Xenobiotics
  • Epoxide Hydrolases
  • EPHX2 protein, human
  • EPHX1 protein, human