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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1996 Jul;58(4):377-84.

MK386: a potent, selective inhibitor of the human type 1 5alpha-reductase.

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  • 1Department of Enzymology, Merck Research Laboratories, Rahway, NJ 07065, USA.


Steroid 5alpha-reductase is required for the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Localization of type 1 5alpha-reductase in the sebaceous gland of skin offers the possibility for selective inhibition of this isozyme as a treatment for acne. The goals of these studies are to demonstrate the mechanism of inhibition of MK386 and its selectivity for type 1 5alpha-reductase. The apparent potency of MK386 differed depending on the source of the enzyme (i.e. recombinant vs. native), yet selectivity for type 1 5alpha-reductase was unchanged. Our results indicate that the apparent potency of MK386 is modulated by the membrane concentration of the assay. These results suggest that MK386 has a high affinity for the lipid-rich membrane environment of 5alpha-reductase. MK386 was also found to be a slow binding inhibitor of type 1 5alpha-reductase. However, the cause of this time-dependent inhibition is unrelated to partitioning of the inhibitor into the membrane because similar studies with type 2 5alpha-reductase indicate that MK386 is a reversible, competitive inhibitor. A number of counterscreens were developed to demonstrate that MK386 is a poor inhibitor of other steroid metabolizing enzymes.

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