Comparison of the effects of methyl-N-butyl ketone and phenobarbital on rat liver cytochromes P-450 and the metabolism of chloroform to phosgene

Richard V. Branchflower, Richard D. Schulick, John W. George, Lance R. Pohl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


It was previously shown that treatment of rats with methyl-n-butyl ketone (MBK) produced an increase in the total level of liver microsomal cytochromes P-450 and an increase in the rate of metabolism of chloroform (CHCl3) to phosgene (COCl2). In the present study it was found that MBK also produced qualitative changes in the composition of microsomal cytochromes P-450 in rat liver as determined by anion-exchange chromatography. The degree of the chromatographic changes paralleled the effect of MBK on the rate of metabolism of CHCl3 to COCl2 and CHCl3-induced hepatoxicity, suggesting that MBK potentiated the hepatotoxicity of CHCl3, at least in part, by inducing the formation of cytochromes P-450 that metabolized CHCl3 to the hepatotoxin COCl2. In this regard, reconstitution studies with a form of cytochrome P-450 isolated from rat liver microsomes from rats treated with MBK or phenobarbital (Pb) showed unequivocally that cytochrome P-450 can metabolize CHCl3 to COCl2. Although analysis of rat liver microsomes by SDS-polyacrylamide electrophoresis and anion-exchange chromatography suggested that MBK and Pb had similar effects on the composition of cytochromes P-450, metabolism studies indicated that differences did exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)414-421
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology and Applied Pharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology

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