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Int J Biochem. 1994 Dec;26(12):1333-40.

Induction of cytochrome P450 by toluene.

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Department of Hygiene, Shinshu University School of Medicine, Matsumoto, Japan.


At least six cytochrome P450 (P450) isoenzymes, including CYP1A1/2, CYP2A1, CYP2B1/2, CYP2C6, CYP2C11 and CYP2E1, are involved in the metabolism of toluene in rat liver. Toluene exposure induces CYP1A1/2, CYP2B1/2, CYP2E1 and CYP3A1, but decreases CYP2C11/6 and CYP2A1 in adult males. Both sex and age influence the induction of P450s by toluene: in general, the inductive effect is more prominent in younger than in older animals; in males than in females. Neonatal exposure to toluene causes significant changes in liver microsomal P450 dependent monooxygenase activities during the early stage of life, whereas the effects on the rats of more than 3 weeks of age are small. Although structurally related chemicals of toluene also influence similar hepatic P450 isoenzymes, the degree of CYP2B1/2 induction increases, whilst that of CYP2E1 decreases with increasing molecular weight and aliphatic moieties. Unlike liver, exposure to toluene does not influence the distribution of pulmonary or renal microsomal P450-related enzyme activity in rats. In humans, occupational exposure to toluene is so low that it could not lead to the induction of P450. However, the induction may be seen in toluene sniffers who are exposed to high concentrations.

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