Cytochrome p450-mediated activation of phenanthrene in genetically engineered V79 Chinese hamster cells

Jürgen Jacob, Gottfried Raab, Volker Soballa, Wolfgang A. Schmalix, Gernot Grimmer, Helmut Greim, Johannes Doehmer, Albrecht Seidel

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46 Scopus citations


V79 Chinese hamster cells genetically engineered for rat cytochromes P450 1A1, 1A2, 2B1 and human cytochromes P450 1A1, 1A2, 2A6, 2E1, and 3A4 are being applied in metabolism studies on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. This study presents the results on phenanthrene as the prototypic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon possessing a bay region. Phenanthrene is of less importance regarding cytotoxicity and carcinogenicity as compared to e.g, benzo[a]pyrene or 7,12-dimethylbenz[a]anthracene. However, phenanthrene is more readily converted to metabolites which are excreted in higher amounts than those from any other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. Therefore, its metabolites are of diagnostic value in epidemiological and occupational exposure studies. For this reason, it is worthwhile to understand the metabolism of phenanthrene in detail, e.g, allocating metabolites and cytochromes P450s. In accordance to previous observations cytochromes P450 1A1 and 1A2 were the most active forms towards phenanthrene. However, metabolite profiles differed between rat and human homologues of cytochromes P450, in particular for cytochrome P450 1A2. The predominant metabolite formed by rat cytochrome P450 1A2 was the K region trans-9, 10-dihydrodiol, whereas human cytochrome P450 1A2 produced similar amounts of the trans-1,2-, trans-3,4- and trans-9,10-dihydrodiol. High amounts of trans-1,2-dihydrodiol, the metabolic precursor of the bay-region dihydrodiol epoxide, were also formed by human cytochrome P450 1A1 compared to its rat homologue. Unexpectedly, human cytochrome P450 2E1 showed a remarkable catalytic activity to metabolize phenanthrene to its trans-9, 10-dihydrodiol. Utilizing recombinant CYPs in live V79 cells appears to be a valuable tool yielding results important for the evaluation of exposure data and risk assessment for humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Pharmacology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 Feb 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytochrome P450
  • Heterologous expression
  • Metabolite
  • Phenanthrene
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon
  • V79 Chinese hamster cell


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