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J Pineal Res. 2001 Nov;31(4):333-42.

Contribution of CYP1A2 in the hepatic metabolism of melatonin: studies with isolated microsomal preparations and liver slices.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, GU2 5XH, UK.


The objective of the present studies was to define the enzyme systems catalysing the 6-hydroxylation of melatonin, by monitoring the levels of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin in rat hepatic postmitochondrial preparations and in precision-cut liver slices. Melatonin 6-hydroxylase activity was localized in microsomes and was supported by NADPH, but not NADH. Treatment of rats with beta-naphthoflavone more than tripled 6-sulphatoxymelatonin formation from melatonin, but gave rise only to a moderate increase (25%) in the sulphate conjugation of 6-hydroxymelatonin. Treatment of rats with phenobarbitone, acetone, dexamethasone and clofibrate did not increase 6-sulphatoxymelatonin generation when either melatonin or 6-hydroxymelatonin served as substrates. Of a number of cytochrome P450 inhibitors investigated, only furafylline inhibited markedly the conversion of melatonin to 6-sulphatoxymelatonin without any concomitant effect on the sulphoconjugation of 6-hydroxymelatonin. When liver slices were incubated with melatonin, treatment of rats with beta-naphthoflavone, and to a lesser extent phenobarbitone, elevated the levels of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin in the culture medium. No such increase was seen when slices from beta-naphthoflavone-treated rats were incubated with 6-hydroxymelatonin, whereas a modest increase was seen with slices from phenobarbitone-treated rats. Treatment of rats with acetone, dexamethasone or clofibrate failed to modulate the levels of 6-sulphatoxymelatonin generated from either melatonin or 6-hydroxymelatonin. Molecular modelling analysis revealed that melatonin had a high area/depth(2) ratio, displayed characteristics of CYP1A2 substrates and could be readily accommodated into the human CYP1A2 active site in a position favouring 6-hydroxylation. Collectively, all the above data provide strong experimental evidence that CYP1A2 is an important catalyst of the 6-hydroxylation of melatonin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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