Metabolic Activation/Inactivation

Archives of Toxicology

, Volume 79, Issue 2, pp 74-82

First online:

Effects of dioxane on cytochrome P450 enzymes in liver, kidney, lung and nasal mucosa of rat

  • A. NannelliAffiliated withArea della Ricerca CNR, Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica
  • , A. De RubertisAffiliated withArea della Ricerca CNR, Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica
  • , V. LongoAffiliated withArea della Ricerca CNR, Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica
  • , P. G. GervasiAffiliated withArea della Ricerca CNR, Istituto di Fisiologia Clinica Email author 

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The effect of acute and chronic dioxane administration on hepatic, renal, pulmonary and nasal mucosa P450 enzymes and liver toxicity were investigated in male rats. The acute treatment consisted of two doses (2 g/kg) of dioxane given for 2 days by gavage, whereas the chronic treatment consisted of 1.5% of dioxane in drinking water for 10 days. Both the acute and chronic dioxane treatments induced cytochrome P450 2B1/2- and P450 2E1-dependent microsomal monooxygenase activities (pentoxyresorufin O-depentylase and p-nitrophenol hydroxylase) in the liver, whereas in the kidney and nasal mucosa, only the 2E1 marker activities were enhanced. In addition in the liver, an induction of 2α-testosterone hydroxylase (associated with the constitutive and hormone-dependent P450 2C11) was also revealed, whereas the hepatic P450 4A-dependent ω-lauric acid hydroxylase was not enhanced by any dioxane treatment. These inductions were mostly confirmed by western blot analysis of liver, kidney and nasal mucosa microsomes. In the lung, no alteration of P450 activities was observed. To assess the mechanism of 2E1 induction, the hepatic, renal and nasal mucosa 2E1 mRNA levels were also examined. Following two kinds of dioxane administration, in the liver the 2E1 induction was not accompanied by a significant alteration of 2E1 mRNA levels, while both in the kidney and nasal mucosa the 2E1 mRNA increased about 2- to 3-fold, indicating an organ-specific regulation of this P450 isoform. Furthermore, dioxane was unable to alter the plasma alanine aminotransferase activity and hepatic glutathione (GSH) content, examined as an index of toxicity, when it was administered into rats with P450 2B1/2 and 2E1 preinduced by phenobarbital or fasting pretreatment. These results support the lack of or a poor formation of reactive and toxic intermediates during the biotrasformation of this solvent, even when its metabolism was enhanced by P450 inducers. The chronic administration of dioxane was also unable to induce the palmitoyl CoA oxidase, a marker of peroxisome proliferation, excluding this as a way to explain its toxicity. Thus, although the mechanism of dioxane carcinogenicity remains unclear, the present results suggest that the induction of 2E1 following a prolonged administration of dioxane might provide oxygen radical species, and thereby contribute to its organ-specific toxicity.


Dioxane Cytochrome P450 induction Kidney Nasal mucosa