CYP2E1-dependent toxicity and up-regulation of antioxidant genes

Montserrat Marí, Defeng Wu, Natalia Nieto, Arthur I. Cederbaum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Induction of cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) by ethanol appears to be one of the central pathways by which ethanol generates a state of oxidative stress. Glutathione (GSH) is critical in preserving the proper cellular redox balance and for its role as a cellular protectant. The goal of the present study was to characterize the GSH homeostasis in human hepatocarcinoma cells (HepG2-E47 cells) that overexpress CYP2E1. Toxicity in the E47 cells was markedly enhanced after GSH depletion by buthionine sulfoximine (BSO) treatment. The antioxidant trolox partially prevented the apoptosis and necrosis, while diallylsulfide, a CYP2E1 inhibitor, was fully protective. Damage to mitochondria appears to play a role in the CYP2E1- and BSO-dependent toxicity. CYP2E1-overexpressing cells showed increases in total GSH levels, GSH synthetic rate and in γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GCS) mRNA. This GCS increase was due to transcriptional activation of the GCS gene and could be blocked by certain antioxidants. Activity, protein and mRNA levels for other antioxidants such as catalase, α- and microsomal glutathione transferases were also increased in the E47 cells. Up-regulation of these antioxidant genes may reflect an adaptive mechanism to remove CYP2E1-derived oxidants. These oxidants are diffusable and were able to elevate collagen type I protein in a co-culture system consisting of the E47 cells + rat hepatic stellate cells. Such interactions between CYP2E1, mitochondria and altered GSH homeostasis, and elevation of collagen levels, may play a role in alcohol-induced liver injury.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-58
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomedical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Antioxidants
  • CYP2E1
  • Collagen type I
  • Glutathione
  • HepG2 cells
  • Stellate cells
  • Toxicity


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