Effects of caloric restriction on rodent drug and carcinogen metabolizing enzymes: implications for mutagenesis and cancer

Mutat Res. 1993 Dec;295(4-6):201-22. doi: 10.1016/0921-8734(93)90021-t.


Caloric restriction in rodents results in increased longevity and a decreased rate of spontaneous and chemically induced neoplasia. The low rates of spontaneous neoplasia and other pathologies have made calorically restricted rodents attractive for use in chronic bioassays. However, caloric restriction also alters hepatic drug metabolizing enzyme (DME) expression and so may also alter the biotransformation rates of test chemicals. These alterations in DME expression may be divided into two types: (1) those that are the direct result of caloric restriction itself and are detectable from shortly after the restriction is initiated; (2) those which are the result of pathological conditions that are delayed by caloric restriction. These latter alterations do not usually become apparent until late in the life of the organism. In rats, the largest direct effect of caloric restriction on liver DMEs is an apparent de-differentiation of sex-specific enzyme expression. This includes a 40-70% decrease in cytochrome P450 2C11 (CYP2C11) expression in males and a 20-30% reduction of corticosterone sulfotransferase activity in females. Changes in DME activities that occur late in life in calorically restricted rats include a stimulation of CYP2E1-dependent 4-nitrophenol hydroxylase activity and a delay in the disappearance of male-specific enzyme activities in senescent males. It is probable that altered DME expression is associated with altered metabolic activation of chemical carcinogens. For example the relative expression of hepatic CYP2C11 in ad libitum-fed or calorically restricted rats of different ages is closely correlated with the amount of genetic damage in 2-acetylaminofluorene- or aflatoxin B1-pretreated hepatocytes isolated from rats of the same age and caloric intake. This suggests that altered hepatic drug and carcinogen metabolism in calorically restricted rats can influence the carcinogenicity of test chemicals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / metabolism*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Mutagenesis*
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / chemically induced
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / enzymology*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / metabolism*
  • Rats


  • Carcinogens
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations