Background/aims: Cytochrome P450 enzymes (P450s) metabolise endogenous substances and a vast variety of drugs. Little is known about the regulation of P450s during pathophysiological conditions in the liver. Therefore we studied the regulation of P450 1A1, 1A2, 2E1 and 3A during liver regeneration after two-thirds hepatectomy.
Methods: Partial hepatectomy or sham surgery was performed in Sprague-Dawley rats. At different time points after surgery, microsomal proteins were isolated and the RNA was prepared. Northern blot analysis, Western blot analysis and enzyme assays for the different P450s were performed.
Results: Northern blot analysis showed a transient downregulation of cytochromes P450 1A2 and 2E1 after hepatectomy, while the expression of cytochrome P450 3A remained unaffected. Western blot analysis of microsomal proteins showed that changes of the mRNA levels are not reflected in the protein level, most likely because the half-life of the P450 proteins in hepatocytes is long, and thus a transient mRNA downregulation has little impact on the total amount of protein detected. Differences in the regulation of the enzymatic activities were found for P450 1A2 and 2E1. Interestingly, the metabolic activity of cytochrome P450 2E1 decreased dramatically post-hepatectomy, while the P450 2A1 activity remained unchanged.
Conclusions: Regulatory mechanisms were found on the RNA level and by post-translational mechanisms which downregulate P450 expression and activity during liver regeneration. These results indicate prolonged half-life of drugs during hepatocyte proliferation, and thus also have important implications for therapy in humans.