Metabolism of N-nitrosobenzylmethylamine by human cytochrome p-450 enzymes

Mark A. Morse, Jerry Lu, Gary D. Stoner, Sharon E. Murphy, Lisa A. Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


N-Nitrosobenzylmethylamine (NBzMA) is a potent esophageal carcinogen in rodents, and has been found as a dietary contaminant in certain areas of China where esophageal cancer is endemic. To determine which cytochrome P-450 enzymes in humans are primarily responsible for NBzMA metabolism, microsomes from lymphoblastoid cell lines expressing a panel of human cytochrome P-450s (CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP2A6, CYP2B6, CYP2D6, CYP2E1, CYP2C9, CYP2C19, and CYP3A4) and a panel of 10 different human liver microsomal preparations were examined for their abilities to metabolize [3H]NBzMA. In addition, the ability of human liver microsomes to form various NBzMA metabolites was correlated with the abilities of these preparations to metabolize coumarin, ethoxyresorufin, chlorzoxazone, 7-ethoxy-4-trifluoromethylcoumarin, S-mephenytoin, and nifedipine. NBzMA metabolites were quantitated by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) coupled with flow-through radioactivity detection. Major metabolites included benzaldehyde, benzyl alcohol, benzoic acid, and several uncharacterized radioactive peaks. Of the representative P-450 activities, only CYP2E1 and CYP2A6 catalyzed substantial metabolism of NBzMA. Compared to CYP2E1, CYP2A6 metabolized NBzMA more readily. NBzMA acted as a potent inhibitor of coumarin 7-hydroxylation in CYP2A6 microsomes. Human liver microsomes metabolized NBzMA readily. NBzMA metabolite formation was most highly correlated with coumarin 7-hydroxylase activity, a marker of CYP2A6 activity. 8-Methoxypsoralen substantially inhibited NBzMA metabolism in human hepatic microsomes. When the effects of the potent isothiocyanates PEITC and PHITC were analyzed on microsomes from cell lines expressing CYP2E1 and CYP2A6, it was found that PEITC inhibited both enzymes, PHITC was the more effective inhibitor of CYP2E1, and PHITC was an ineffective inhibitor of CYP2A6. Collectively, these data indicate that CYP2A6 and, to a lesser degree, CYP2E1 are important P-450 enzymes in the activation of NBzMA in human systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-411
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Toxicology and Environmental Health - Part A
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999


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