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J Biol Chem. 1996 Jan 19;271(3):1357-63.

Inhibition of catechol O-methyltransferase-catalyzed O-methylation of 2- and 4-hydroxyestradiol by quercetin. Possible role in estradiol-induced tumorigenesis.

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Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-1031, USA.


Catecholestrogens have been postulated to mediate the induction of kidney tumors by estradiol in male Syrian hamsters. In this study, we examined the mechanism of inhibition by quercetin of the catechol O-methyltransferase-catalyzed O-methylation of catecholestrogens as a basis for the previously reported enhancement of estradiol-induced tumorigenesis by this flavonoid. In hamsters treated with 50 micrograms of [6,7-3H]estradiol, quercetin increased concentrations of 2- and 4-hydroxyestradiol in kidney by 80 and 59%, respectively. In animals treated with two 10-mg estradiol implants, quercetin also decreased by 63-65% the urinary excretion of 2- and 4-hydroxyestradiol monomethyl ethers. Taken together, these results demonstrate the in vivo inhibition of the O-methylation of catecholestrogens by quercetin. S-Adenosyl-L-homocysteine, produced by the methylation of catecholestrogens, noncompetitively inhibited the O-methylation of 2- and 4-hydroxyestradiol by hamster kidney cytosolic catechol O-methyltransferase (IC50 approximately 10-14 microM). Due to the rapid O-methylation of quercetin itself, quercetin decreased renal concentrations of S-adenosyl-L-methionine by approximately 25% in control or estradiol-treated hamsters and increased concentrations of S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine by 5-15 nmol/g of wet tissue, which was estimated to cause a 30-70% inhibition of the enzymatic O-methylation of catecholestrogens. Quercetin or fisetin (a structural analog) inhibited the O-methylation of 2- and 4-hydroxyestradiol by a competitive plus noncompetitive mechanism (IC50 approximately 2-5 microM). These results suggest that the in vivo O-methylation of catecholestrogens is inhibited more by S-adenosyl-L-homocysteine than by quercetin. The accumulation of 2- and 4-hydroxyestradiol during co-administration of estradiol and quercetin may enhance metabolic redox cycling of catecholestrogens and thus estradiol-induced kidney tumorigenesis.

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