The relationship between barbiturate structures and their effects on induction of rat cytochrome P450 forms was studied in primary cultured hepatocytes. Treatment of hepatocytes cultured on matrigel with 1 mM barbital, N-methylbarbital, cyclobarbital, hexobarbital, phenobarbital (PB), or mephobarbital (N-methyl-PB) resulted in increased amounts of CYP2B1/2 and CYP2C6 forms. Microsomal CYP3A content was also enhanced by treatment with these barbiturates, except for barbital. Although no relationship was observed between the levels of CYP2B1/2 and CYP3A, ratios of CYP3A/CYP2B1 plus CYP2B2 contents were invariably higher with hepatocytes treated with N- methylated barbiturates than with the nonmethylated analogs. Consistent results were also observed in vivo in rats treated with PB and N-methyl-PB. These results indicate the difference in the structure requirement for induction of CYP2B and CYP3A. In addition, N-methyl-PB was found to suppress PB-mediated induction of CYP2B1. Hepatic levels of CYP2B1 mRNA and protein were increased by treatment with PB or N-methyl-PB alone, but decreased by cotreatment with 1 mM PB and N-methyl-PB. The suppression has been shown to occur at the transcriptional level of the CYP2B1 gene by using a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter-CYP2B1 fused gene system.
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