The Involvement of Cytochrome P‐450 in Hepatic Microsomal Steroid Hydroxylation Reactions Supported by Sodium Periodate, Sodium Chlorite, and Organic Hydroperoxides

E. G. Hrycay, J. A. Gustafsson, M. Ingelman Sundberg, L. Ernster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The mechanism of steroid hydroxylation in rat liver microsomes has been investigated by employing NaIO4, NaClO2, and various organic hydroperoxides as hydroxylating agents and comparing the reaction rates and steroid products formed with those of the NADPH dependent reaction. Androstenedione, testosterone, progesterone, and 17β estradiol were found to act as good substrates. NaIO4 was by far the most effective hydroxylating agent followed by cumene hydroperoxide, NADPH, NaClO2, pregnenolone 17α hydroperoxide, tert butyl hydroperoxide, and linoleic acid hydroperoxide. Androstenedione was chosen as the model substrate for inducer and inhibitor studies. The steroid was converted to its respective 6β, 7α, 15, and 16α hydroxy derivatives when incubated with microsomal fractions fortified with hydroxylating agent. Evidence for cytochrome P 450 involvement in androstenedione hydroxylation included a marked inhibition by substrates and modifiers of cytochrome P 450 and by reagents which convert cytochrome P 450 to cytochrome P 420. The ratios of the steroid products varied according to the type of hydroxylating agent used and were also modified by in vivo phenobarbital pretreatment. It was suggested that multiple forms of cytochrome P 450 exhibiting different affinities for hydroxylating agent are responsible for these different ratios. Horseradish peroxidase, catalase, and metmyoglobin could not catalyze androstenedione hydroxylation. Addition of NaIO4, NaClO2, cumene hydroperoxide and other organic hydroperoxides to microsomal suspensions resulted in the appearance of a transient spectral change in the difference spectrum characterized by a peak at about 440 nm and a trough at 420 nm. The efficiency of these oxidizing agents in promoting steroid hydroxylation in microsomes appeared to be related to their effectiveness in eliciting the spectral complex. Electron donors, substrates, and modifiers of cytochrome P 450 greatly diminished the magnitude of the spectral change. It is proposed that NaIO4, NaClO2, and organic hydroperoxides promote steroid hydroxylation by forming a transient ferryl ion (compound I) of cytochrome P 450 which may be the common intermediate hydroxylating species involved in hydroxylations catalyzed by cytochrome P 450.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-52
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Biochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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