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Biochem Pharmacol. 1984 Feb 15;33(4):565-9.

Regulation of heme metabolism and cytochrome P-450 levels in primary culture of rat hepatocytes in a defined medium.


Liver cells were prepared from adult Sprague-Dawley rats and used for the determination of delta-aminolevulinic acid synthetase (ALAS) activity and cytochrome P-450 concentrations at different time intervals in tissue culture in a serum-free synthetic medium. During the first 24 hr in culture, the level of cytochrome P-450 decreased to 30-40% of the level in isolated liver cells from untreated animals. The disappearance of cytochrome P-450 was especially fast in hepatocytes obtained from female phenobarbital-treated rats where only 40% of the original cytochrome P-450 was present after 2 hr in culture and 80% had disappeared in 2 days. The activity of ALAS increased 3- to 4-fold when measured 2 hr after plating, and it reached the maximum level in 19-24 hr when its activity was about eight times the original activity. In 2-4 days in culture, the activity of ALAS was four to five times above the original level. When the amount of delta-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) in the medium was increased from 1 to 100 microM, a decrease in ALAS was obtained, but no significant increase in cytochrome P-450 level was observed. Addition of heme to the medium gave a dose-dependent decrease in the activity of ALAS. Our data indicate that during the first 24 hr in culture the increase of ALAS activity was prevented by exogenous heme. This effect may be due to inhibition of the catalytic activity, suppression of the synthesis of the enzyme, or accelerated breakdown of the enzyme by heme.

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