Peroxisome proliferators alter the expression of estrogen-metabolizing enzymes

J. C. Corton, C. Bocos, E. S. Moreno, A. Merritt, R. C. Cattley, J. Å Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Exposure to some peroxisome proliferator chemicals (PPC) leads to toxic effects on sex organ function possibly by alterations of steroid hormone metabolism. A systematic search for genes whose mRNA levels are modulated by the PPC WY-14643 (WY) was carried out in rat liver, a site of steroid hormone metabolism. The sequence of one up-regulated cDNA (2480 bp) was predicted to encode a protein of 735 amino acids with 82% identity to the porcine 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type IV (HSD IV) originally isolated as a 17β-estradiol dehydrogenase. The rat HSD IV was localized to peroxisomes and was regulated by diverse PPC by two distinct mechanisms. Induction of HSD IV and acyl-CoA oxidase (ACO) proteins in rat liver at different treatment times and concentrations of gemfibrozil (GEM) and di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) were almost identical, suggesting that HSD IV mRNA induction involves the peroxisome proliferator- activated receptor α, a regulator of ACO. In contrast, HSD IV protein levels were only weakly induced by WY, a strong inducer of ACO protein, even though the levels of both HSD IV and ACO mRNA were strongly stimulated by WY. Thus HSD IV protein levels were uniquely regulated pretranslationally by WY. In addition to HSD IV we also identified the male-specific α2(u)-globulin as a PPC down-regulated gene. This prompted us to examine the expression of another male-specific gene, CYP2C11, that catalyzes the hydroxylations of estradiol at the 2 and 16α positions. Cyp2C11 protein expression in rat liver was either decreased or completely abolished after a 3-week treatment by GEM or WY respectively. Decreased expression of enzymes which inactivate estradiol including Cyp2C11, and the reported increased expression of aromatase may explain why male rats exposed to diverse PPC have higher serum estradiol levels. These higher estradiol levels in male rats have been thought to be mechanistically linked to Leydig cell hyperplasia and adenomas. Increased conversion of estradiol to the less active estrone by HSD IV induction may explain how exposure to the phthalate di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate leads to decreases in serum estradiol levels and suppression of ovulation in female rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-162
Number of pages12
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 1997


  • 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type IV
  • Cytochrome P
  • Estrogen metabolism
  • Gene regulation
  • Peroxisome proliferators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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