Changes of multiple biotransformation phase I and phase II enzyme activities in human fetal adrenals during fetal development

Hui Wang, Jie Ping, Ren Xiu Peng, Jiang Yue, Xue Yan Xia, Qi Xiong Li, Rui Kong, Jun Yan Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Aim: Fetal adrenal, which synthesizes steroid hormones, is critical to fetal growth and development. Our recent research showed that some xenobiotics could interfere with steroidogenesis and induce intrauterine growth retardation in rats. The study on the characteristics of biotransformation enzymes in fetal adrenals still seems to be important with respect to possible significance in xenobiotic-induced fetal development toxicity. In this study, the activities of several important xenobiotic-related phase I and phase II enzymes in human fetal adrenals were examined and compared with those in fetal livers. Methods: The activity and mRNA expression were determined by enzymatic analysis and RT-PCR. Results: The levels of cytochrome (CYP)2A6, CYP2E1, and CYP3A7 isozymes in fetal adrenals were 82%, 92%, and 33% of those in fetal livers, respectively. There was a good positive correlation between adrenal CYP2A6 activity and gestational time. The values of α glutathione S-transferase (GST), φGST, and μGST in adrenals were 0.5, 4.4, and 8.3-fold of those in the livers, respectively, and the activity of adrenal πGST was negatively correlated with gestational time. The uridine diphosphoglucuronyl transferase activities, which were measured using p-hydroxy-biphenyl and 7-hydroxy-4-methylcoumarin as substrates, were 9% and 3%, respectively, of those in the fetal livers. Conclusion: Our investigation suggested that adrenal could be an important xenobiotic-metabolizing organ in fetal development and may play a potential role in xenobiotic-induced fetal development toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-238
Number of pages8
JournalActa Pharmacologica Sinica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


  • Adrenal
  • Cytochrome P450
  • Glutathione S-transferase
  • Human fetus
  • Uridine diphosphoglucuronyl transferase

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