Steroid hormone biotransformation and xenobiotic induction of hepatic steroid metabolizing enzymes
Chemico-Biological Interactions 147(3): 233-246
Normal reproductive development depends on the interplay of steroid hormones with their receptors at specific tissue sites. The concentrations of hormone ligands in the circulation and at target sites are maintained through coordinated regulation on steroid biosynthesis and degradation. Changed bioavailability of steroids, through alteration of steroidogenesis or biotransformation rates, leads to changes in endocrine function. Steroid hormones lose their receptor reactivity in most cases when they are bound to binding proteins, while metabolic conversion can result in either active or inactive metabolites. Hydroxylation by cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes and conjugation with glucuronide and sulfate are among the major hepatic pathways of steroid inactivation. The expression of these biotransformation enzymes can be induced by many xenobiotics. The barbiturate phenobarbital and the environmental toxicant 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl)ethylene (DDE) are among the well characterized inducers for the CYP 2B and 3A enzymes and selected conjugation enzymes. The induction of the steroid biotransformation enzymes is partly mediated through the activation of a group of nuclear receptors including the glucocorticoid receptor, the constitutive androstane receptor (CAR), the pregnane X receptor (PXR), and the peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPAR). Drug or chemical-induced increases in hepatic enzyme activities are often a basis for drug-drug interactions that lead to enhanced elimination and reduced therapeutic efficacy of steroidal drugs. The effects of enzyme induction on endogenous steroid clearance, along with its possible consequence, are less well understood. While enzyme induction by xenobiotics may increase clearance of the endogenous steroid, regulatory mechanisms for steroid homeostasis may adapt and compensate for altered clearance.