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

Role of brain cytochrome P450 in regulation of the level of anesthetic steroids in the brain.

The role of brain cytochrome P450 (P450) in regulating the levels of the potent anesthetic steroid 3 alpha-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one (3 alpha-OH-DHP) has been investigated. By analogy with the elimination of androgen from its target tissues, we present evidence that it is 3 beta-hydroxy-5 alpha-pregnan-20-one (3 beta-OH-DHP) and not 3 alpha-OH-DHP that represents the major pathway for the formation of more polar metabolites and thus the elimination of the 5 alpha-reduced metabolites of progesterone from target tissues. No polar metabolites were formed when 3 alpha-OH-DHP was incubated with microsomal fractions prepared from rat brain, but 3 beta-OH-DHP was hydroxylated at the 6 alpha- and 7 alpha-positions. These 3 beta-diols were not formed to any detectable extent in the liver or kidney but were formed in prostate, pituitary, brain, and breast. The highest catalytic activity, 512 nmol of products formed/g of tissue/hr, was found in the prostate. The corresponding rates in the pituitary, brain, and breast were 71.9, 28.1, and 6.7 nmol/g/hr, respectively. These hydroxylations were confirmed to be P450-catalyzed reactions by solubilization of the P450 from prostate, brain, and breast microsomes and reconstitution of the catalytic activity with NADPH-P450 reductase (EC and lipid. Because 5 alpha-androstane-3 beta,17 beta-diol (3 beta-Adiol) has been shown to be a good substrate for prostate and brain P450, competition experiments were performed to determine whether the same form of P450 is involved in the elimination of 3 beta-Adiol and 3 beta-OH-DHP in the brain. These two substrates competed with each other for metabolism in microsomal fractions and in reconstitution experiments with P450 extracted from the brain or prostate. To test the hypothesis that the hydroxylation of 3 beta-OH-DHP represents a pathway for regulation of the level of 3 alpha-OH-DHP in the brain, the effect of inhibition of the hydroxylation of 3 beta-OH-DHP on the duration of 3 alpha-OH-DHP-induced anesthesia was examined. The nonanesthetic steroid 3 beta-Adiol was used as a competitive inhibitor of the metabolism of 3 beta-OH-DHP. The duration of anesthesia upon intravenous administration of 3 alpha-OH-DHP was increased by 33% when 3 beta-Adiol was coadministered.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. Role of brain cytochrome P450 in regulation of the level of anesthetic steroids in the brain. Strömstedt, M., Warner, M., Banner, C.D., MacDonald, P.C., Gustafsson, J.A. Mol. Pharmacol. (1993) [Pubmed]
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