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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Tibolone is metabolized by the 3alpha/3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase activities of the four human isozymes of the aldo-keto reductase 1C subfamily: inversion of stereospecificity with a delta5(10)-3-ketosteroid.

Tibolone is used to treat climacteric complaints and prevent osteoporosis. These beneficial effects are exerted via its 3alpha-and 3beta-hydroxymetabolites. Undesirable stimulation of the breast and endometrium is not apparent. Endometrial stimulation is prevented by the progestogenic activity of its Delta4-ene metabolite. The enzymes responsible for the formation of these active metabolites are unknown. Human aldo-keto reductase (AKR)1C isoforms have been shown to act as 3alpha/3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenases (HSDs) on 5alpha-dihydrotestosterone (5alpha-DHT). We show that AKR1Cs also efficiently catalyze the reduction of the Delta(5(10))-3-ketosteroid tibolone to yield 3alpha- and 3beta-hydroxytibolone. Homogeneous recombinant AKR1C1, AKR1C3, and AKR1C4 gave similar catalytic profiles to those observed with 5alpha-DHT. AKR1C1 catalyzed exclusively the formation of 3beta-hydroxytibolone, AKR1C3 showed weak 3beta/3alpha-HSD activity, and AKR1C4 acted predominantly as a 3alpha-HSD. Whereas AKR1C2 acted as a 3alpha-HSD toward 5alpha-DHT, it functioned exclusively as a 3beta-HSD on tibolone. Furthermore, strong substrate inhibition was observed for the AKR1C2 catalyzed reduction of tibolone. Using NAD+, the 3-hydroxymetabolites were efficiently oxidized by homogeneous recombinant AKR1C2 and AKR1C4. However, because of potent inhibition of this activity by NADPH, AKR1Cs will probably act only as 3-ketosteroid reductases in vivo. Molecular docking simulations using crystal structures of AKR1C1 and AKR1C2 explained why AKR1C2 inverted its stereospecificity from a 3alpha-HSD with 5alpha-DHT to a 3beta-HSD with tibolone. The preference for AKR1C1 and AKR1C2 to form 3beta-hydroxytibolone, and the preference of the liver-specific AKR1C4 to form 3alpha-hydroxytibolone, may explain why 3beta-hydroxytibolone is the major metabolite in human target tissues and why 3alpha-hydroxytibolone is the major circulating metabolite.[1]


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