Cytochrome P450 in mammalian brain: Purification, anatomical distribution and regulation of the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase system in rat brain

Arthur Francis Bergh, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


The cytochrome P450 (P450) monooxygenase system plays a major role in metabolizing a wide variety of xenobiotic as well as endogenous compounds. In performing this function, it serves to protect the body from foreign substances. However, in a number of cases, P450 activates procarcinogens to cause harm. In most animals, the highest level of activity is found in the liver. Virtually all tissues demonstrate P450 activity, though, and the role of the P450 monooxygenase system in these other organs is not well understood. In this project I have studied the P450 system in rat brain; purifying NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase (reductase) from that tissue. In addition, I have examined the distribution and regulation of expression of reductase and P450 in various anatomical regions of the rat brain. NADPH-cytochrome P450 reductase was purified to apparent homogeneity and cytochrome P450 partially purified from whole rat brain. Purified reductase from brain was identical to liver P450 reductase by SDS-PAGE and Western blot techniques. Kinetic studies utilizing cerebral P450 reductase reveal Km values in close agreement with those determined with enzyme purified from rat liver. Moreover, the brain P450 reductase was able to function successfully in a reconstituted microsomal system with partially purified brain cytochrome P450 and with purified hepatic P4501A1 as measured by 7-ethoxycoumarin and 7-ethoxyresorufin O-deethylation. These results indicate that the reductase and P450 components may interact to form a competent drug metabolism system in brain tissue. Since the brain is not a homogeneous organ, dependent upon the well orchestrated interaction of numerous parts, pathology in one nucleus may have a large impact upon its overall function. Hence, the anatomical distribution of the P450 monooxygenase system in brain is important in elucidating its function in that organ. Related to this is the regulation of P450 expression in brain. In order to study these issues female rats--both ovariectomized and not--were treated with a number of xenobiotic compounds and sex steroids. The brains from these animals were dissected into 8 discrete regions and the presence and relative level of message for P4502D and reductase determined using polymerase chain reaction. Results of this study indicate the presence of mRNA for reductase and P4502D isoforms throughout the rat brain. In addition, quantitative PCR has allowed the determination of factors affecting the expression of message for these enzymes.

Subject Area

Biochemistry|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Bergh, Arthur Francis, "Cytochrome P450 in mammalian brain: Purification, anatomical distribution and regulation of the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase system in rat brain" (1994). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9426532.