P450-mediated bioactivation of azoxymethane (AOM), a colon carcinogen, leads to the formation of DNA adducts, of which O(6)-methylguanine (O(6)-mG) is the most mutagenic and contributes to colon tumorigenesis. To determine whether P450 enzymes of the liver and intestine both contribute to AOM bioactivation in vivo, we compared tissue levels of AOM-induced DNA adducts, microsomal AOM metabolic activities, and incidences of colonic aberrant crypt foci (ACF) among wild-type (WT), liver-specific P450 reductase (Cpr)-null (LCN), and intestinal epithelium-specific Cpr-null (IECN) mice. At 6 h following AOM treatment (at 14 mg/kg, s.c.), O(6)-mG and N(7)-mG levels were highest in the liver, followed by the colon, and then small intestine in WT mice. As expected, hepatic adduct levels were significantly lower (by >60%) in LCN mice but unchanged in IECN mice, whereas small-intestinal adduct levels were unchanged or increased in LCN mice but lower (by >50%) in IECN mice compared to that in WT mice. However, colonic adduct levels were unchanged in IECN mice compared to that in WT mice and increased in LCN mice (by 1.5-2.9-fold). The tissue-specific impact of the CPR loss in IECN and LCN mice on microsomal AOM metabolic activity was confirmed by rates of formation of formaldehyde and N(7)-mG in vitro. Furthermore, the incidence of ACF, a lesion preceding colon cancer, was similar in the three mouse strains. Thus, AOM-induced colonic DNA damage and ACF formation is not solely dependent on either hepatic or intestinal microsomal P450 enzymes. P450 enzymes in both the liver and intestine likely contribute to AOM-induced colon carcinogenesis.
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