Both cytochromes P450 2E1 and 3A are involved in the O-hydroxylation of p-nitrophenol, a catalytic activity known to be specific for P450 2E1.Chem Res Toxicol. 1997 Oct; 10(10):1205-12.CR
4-Nitrophenol 2-hydroxylation activity was previously shown to be mainly catalyzed by P450 2E1 in animal species and humans. As this chemical compound is widely used as an in vitro probe for P450 2E1, this study was carried out to test its catalytic specificity. First, experiments were carried out on liver microsomes and hepatocyte cultures of rat treated with different inducers. Liver microsomes from pyrazole- and dexamethasone-treated rats hydroxylated p-nitrophenol with a metabolic rate increased by 2.5- and 2.7-fold vs control. Dexamethasone treatment increased the hepatic content of P450 3A but not that of P450 2E1. Two specific inhibitors of P450 3A catalytic activities, namely, ketoconazole and troleandomycin (TAO), inhibited up to 50% of 4-nitrophenol hydroxylation in dexamethasone-treated rats but not in controls. Hepatocyte cultures from dexamethasone-treated rats transformed p-nitrophenol into 4-nitrocatechol 7.8 times more than controls. This catalytic activity was inhibited by TAO. Similarly, hepatocyte cultures from pyrazole-treated rats hydroxylated p-nitrophenol with a metabolic ratio increased by about 8-fold vs control. This reaction was inhibited by diethyl dithiocarbamate and dimethyl sulfoxide, both inhibitors of P450 2E1. Second, the capability of human P450s other than P450 2E1 to catalyze the formation of 4-nitrocatechol was examined in a panel of 13 human liver microsomes. Diethyl dithiocarbamate and ketoconazole reduced 4-nitrophenol hydroxylase activity by 77% (+/- 11) and 13% (+/- 16), respectively. Furthermore, the residual activity following diethyl dithiocarbamate inhibition was significantly correlated with seven P450 3A4 catalytic activities. Finally, the use of human cell lines genetically engineered for expression of human P450s demonstrated that P450 2E1 and 3A4 hydroxylated 4-nitrophenol with turnovers of 19.5 and 1.65 min-1, respectively. In conclusion, P450 3A may make a significant contribution to 4-nitrophenol hydroxylase activity in man and rat.