Developmental expression of cytochrome P450 enzymes in human liver

Pharmacol Toxicol. 1998 May;82(5):209-17. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0773.1998.tb01427.x.


Drug-metabolizing cytochrome P450 enzymes, the major phase I enzymes, are active in human liver already at very early stages of intrauterine development, although presumably at fairly low concentrations and in low numbers. During maturation, these enzymes go through various developmental programmes towards adulthood. The major increase both in abundance as well as in number of different enzymes takes place after birth, probably during the first year of life. Detailed information concerning these developmental changes is still limited. The major drug-metabolizing P450 enzymes appear to be primarily members of the CYP3A subfamily in all stages of development. The balance between different members of this subfamily, however, undergoes significant switches from the foetal predominant CYP3A7 to the major adult form CYP3A4. The ontogeny of the other cytochrome P450 enzymes is less well characterized, but the major switch-on appears to occur mainly after birth. Developmental expression of P450 enzymes is one of the key factors determining the pharmacokinetic status of developing individuals both pre- and postnatally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Human Development
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Liver / growth & development*


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System