Both cytochromes P450 2E1 and 1A1 are involved in the metabolism of chlorzoxazone

Chem Res Toxicol. Nov-Dec 1993;6(6):852-7. doi: 10.1021/tx00036a015.


Chlorzoxazone, a centrally acting muscle relaxant, was previously shown to be hydroxylated on carbon 6 specifically by cytochrome P450 2E1. Accordingly, this drug has been proposed as a potential noninvasive in-vivo probe for screening the hepatic P450 2E1 activity. This study was carried out to test the specificity of such a substrate when first experiments conducted by using human hepatocyte cultures showed that the chlorzoxazone 6-hydroxylation activity increased after 3-methylcholanthrene treatment of cells. Indeed, the ability of both rat and human hepatocytes to metabolize chlorzoxazone significantly increased after treatments by 3-methylcholanthrene alone or plus ethanol, suggesting the involvement of P450 1A enzymes in this oxidative reaction. Identical results were obtained by in-vivo treatment of rats with four inducers of P450 1A enzymes, namely, beta-naphthoflavone, isosafrole, Arochlor 1254, and 3-methylcholanthrene. Furthermore, the chlorzoxazone 6-hydroxylation activity was inhibited by both alpha-naphthoflavone and dimethyl sulfoxide, both known to inhibit P450 1A and P450 2E1 activities, respectively. Finally, the use of yeasts genetically engineered for expression of human P450 1A1, 1A2, 2C9, and 3A4 demonstrated that P450 1A1 was significantly involved in this catalytic activity. In conclusion, these results taken together suggest that chlorzoxazone should be used with precaution as in-vivo tool for evaluating P450 2E1. However, the relative Km of P450 1A1 and 2E1 for chlorzoxazone and, on the other hand, the relative levels of these two enzymes in the human liver suggest that P450 2E1 would generally be the major form metabolizing chlorzoxazone in-vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chlorzoxazone / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2E1
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / genetics
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Complementary / biosynthesis
  • Enzyme Induction / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / enzymology
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / metabolism
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / biosynthesis
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / genetics
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating / metabolism*
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / enzymology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Substrate Specificity


  • DNA Probes
  • DNA, Complementary
  • RNA
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2E1
  • Oxidoreductases, N-Demethylating
  • Chlorzoxazone