Reductase and oxidase activity of rat liver cytochrome P450 with 2,3,5,6-tetramethylbenzoquinone as substrate

A R Goeptar, J.M. te Koppele, E P Neve, N P Vermeulen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The main objective of the present study was to investigate the proposed role of cytochrome P450 in the reductive metabolism of quinones as well as in the formation of reduced oxygen species in liver microsomes from phenobarbital (PB-microsomes) and beta-naphthoflavone (beta NF-microsomes) pretreated rats. In the present study, 2,3,5,6-tetramethylbenzoquinone (TMQ) was chosen as a model quinone. Anaerobic one-electron reduction of TMQ by PB-microsomes showed relatively strong electron spin resonance (ESR) signals of the oxygen-centered semiquinone free radical (TMSQ), whereas these signals were hardly detectable with beta NF-microsomes. Under aerobic conditions TMSQ formation was diminished and concomitant reduction of molecular oxygen occurred in PB-microsomes. Interestingly, TMQ-induced superoxide anion radicals, measured by ESR (using the spin trap 5,5'-dimethyl-1-pyrroline-N-oxide), and hydrogen peroxide generation was found to occur with beta NF-microsomes as well. Furthermore, SK&F 525-A (a type I ligand inhibitor of cytochrome P450) inhibited TMQ-induced hydrogen peroxide formation in both PB- and beta NF-microsomes. However, metyrapone and imidazole (type II ligand inhibitors of cytochrome P450) inhibited molecular oxygen reduction in beta NF-microsomes and not in PB-microsomes. The present study indicates that cytochrome P450-mediated one-electron reduction of TMQ to TMSQ and subsequent redox cycling of TMSQ with molecular oxygen constitutes the major source for superoxide anion radical and hydrogen peroxide generation in PB-microsomes (i.e. from the reductase activity of cytochrome P450). However, most of the superoxide anion radical formed upon aerobic incubation of TMQ with beta NF-microsomes originates directly from the dioxyanion-ferri-cytochrome P450 complex (i.e. from the oxidase activity of cytochrome P450). In conclusion, both the one-electron reduction of TMQ and molecular oxygen were found to be cytochrome P450 dependent. Apparently, both the reductase and oxidase activities of cytochrome P450 may be involved in the reductive cytotoxicity of chemotherapeutic agents containing the quinoid moiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-69
Number of pages21
JournalChemico-Biological Interactions
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 1992


  • Animals
  • Benzoflavones
  • Benzoquinones
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Electron Spin Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Male
  • Microsomes, Liver
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Oxygenases
  • Phenobarbital
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Spin Labels
  • Superoxides
  • Xanthine Oxidase
  • beta-Naphthoflavone
  • Journal Article


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