The nitrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon 1-nitropyrene is a ubiquitous environmental pollutant. The role of cytochromes P-450 in the human metabolism of [3H]-1-nitropyrene was investigated using human liver microsomes. The range of microsomal metabolism from 16 individual liver specimens was 0.13 to 0.99 nmol/min/mg protein. Using 3 microsomal samples exhibiting different maximal velocities, the Km of 1-nitropyrene metabolism was 3.3 ± 0.5 µm, indicating that perhaps a single or similar cytochromes P-450 was involved in the metabolism of 1-nitropyrene in these samples. The P-450 3A inhibitor triacetylolean-domycin inhibited 86 ± 8% of the microsomal metabolism of 1-nitropyrene. Further evidence for the role of P-450 3A in human microsomal metabolism of 1-nitropyrene was gained using inhibitory anti-P-450 3A antibodies. Using 3 separate microsomal samples, antibody conditions that inhibited approximately 90% of the metabolism of the P-450 3A4-specific substrate nifedipine inhibited approximately 60–70% of the metabolism of 1-nitropyrene. Human liver microsomes demonstrated a preference for 1-nitropyren-3-ol formation over 1-nitropyren-6-ol or 1-nitropyren-8-ol, which is in contrast to that noted in rodents where the 6-ol and 8-ol are preferentially formed over the 3-ol, yet in agreement with earlier studies on the metabolism of 1-nitropyrene using Vaccinia-expressed human cytochromes P-450. These results indicate that the human hepatic metabolism of 1-nitropyrene is carried out by at least two or more P-450s including those in the P-450 3A subfamily. These studies also suggest that the metabolism of this compound by humans may differ from that in rodents in both the cytochromes that are involved and the specific metabolites that are formed.


This work was supported in part by Grant ES03648 from the NIH.

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