Enantioselective metabolism of the endocrine disruptor pesticide methoxychlor by human cytochromes P450 (P450s): major differences in selective enantiomer formation by various P450 isoforms

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

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Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System; Endocrine System; Humans; Insecticides; Isoenzymes; Methoxychlor; Microsomes, Liver; Stereoisomerism


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


Methoxychlor, a currently used pesticide that in mammals elicits proestrogenic/estrogenic activity and reproductive toxicity, has been classified as a prototype endocrine disruptor. Methoxychlor is prochiral, and its metabolites 1,1,1-trichloro-2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-(4-methoxyphenyl)ethane (mono-OH-M); 1,1,1-trichloro- 2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-2-(3, 4-dihydroxyphenyl)ethane (catechol-M); and 1,1,1-trichloro-2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-(3, 4-dihydroxyphenyl)ethane (tris-OH-M) are chiral; whereas 1,1,1-trichloro-2, 2-bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)ethane (bis-OH-M) is achiral. These metabolites are formed during methoxychlor incubation with liver microsomes or recombinant cytochrome p450s (rp450s). Since methoxychlor-metabolite enantiomers may have different estrogenic/antiestrogenic/antiandrogenic activities than corresponding racemates, the possibility that p450s preferentially generate or use R or S enantiomers, was examined. Indeed, rCYP1A2 and r2A6 mono-demethylated methoxychlor primarily into (R)-mono-OH-M at 91 and 75%, respectively, whereas rCYP1A1, 2B6, 2C8, 2C9, 2C19, and 2D6 formed the (S)-enantiomer at 69, 66, 75, 95, 96, and 80%, respectively. However, rCYP3A4, 3A5, and 2B1(rat) weakly demethylated methoxychlor without enantioselectivity. Human liver microsomes generated (S)-mono-OH-M (77-87%), suggesting that CYP1A2 and 2A6 display only minor catalytic contribution. P450 inhibitors demonstrated that CYP2C9 and possibly 2C19 are major hepatic catalysts forming (S)-mono-OH-M, and CYP1A2 is primarily involved in forming the (R)-mono-OH-M. Demethylation rate of (S)-mono-OH-M versus (R)-mono-OH-M forming achiral bis-OH-M by rCYP1A2 was 97/3, compared with 15/85 and 17/83 for rCYP2C9 and 2C19, respectively, indicating opposite substrate enantioselectivity of rCYP1A2 versus 2C9 and 2C19. Also, rCYP1A2 preferentially O-demethylated (R)-catechol-M into (R)-tris-OH-M (at 80%), contrasting r2C9 and r2C19 that yielded (S)-tris-OH-M at 80 and 77%, respectively. Ortho-hydroxylation of mono-OH-M into catechol-M and bis-OH-M into tris-OH-M was primarily by 3A4 and was not enantioselective. In conclusion, enantiomeric abundance of methoxychlor metabolites depends on the relative catalytic activity of the hepatic p450 isoforms.


Drug Metab Dispos. 2002 Dec;30(12):1329-36.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Drug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals

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