Received February 9, 1998
Bacterial lipopolysaccharide and a diverse array of other immunostimulants and cytokines suppress the metabolism of endogenous and exogenous substances by reducing the activity of hepatic cytochrome P-450 mixed function oxidase system. Although this effect of immunostimulants was first described almost 40 years ago, the mechanism is obscure. Immunostimulants are now known to cause nitric oxide overproduction by cells via induction of nitric oxide synthase. The highly reactive NO radical binds to prosthetic groups such as heme or iron-sulfur clusters leading to either activation or (more often) inhibition of iron-containing enzymes. It has been known for years that NO also binds to the heme moiety of cytochrome P-450 (CYP) with high affinity. However it was only recently demonstrated that binding of NO to CYPs also inhibits their enzymatic activity. This applies to both exogenously derived as well as endogenously synthesized NO. Suppression of CYP-dependent metabolism, which is a major problem of inflammatory liver diseases, can be significantly reversed by inhibition of NO synthesis in vivo under experimental conditions. The present paper reviews the findings implicating NO as a major factor mediating the suppression of CYP expression caused by endotoxins and immunostimulants in general. NO-mediated suppression of the metabolism of endogenous and exogenous substances under inflammatory conditions may contribute to the clinical manifestations and may be an important consideration for rational drug therapy in these conditions.
KEY WORDS: nitric oxide, cytochrome P-450, liver, rat, mice, inflammation, cytokines, bacterial lipopolysaccharide, endotoxin, Chlamydia trachomatis infection