Metabolism of Oral Turinabol by Human Steroid Hormone-Synthesizing Cytochrome P450 Enzymes

Lina Schiffer, Simone Brixius-Anderko, Frank Hannemann, Josef Zapp, Jens Neunzig, Mario Thevis, Rita Bernhardt

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


The human mitochondrial cytochrome P450 enzymes CYP11A1, CYP11B1, and CYP11B2 are involved in the biosynthesis of steroid hormones. CYP11A1 catalyzes the side-chain cleavage of cholesterol, and CYP11B1 and CYP11B2 catalyze the final steps in the biosynthesis of gluco- and mineralocorticoids, respectively. This study reveals their additional capability to metabolize the xenobiotic steroid oral turinabol (OT; 4-chlor-17β-hydroxy-17α-methylandrosta-1,4-dien-3-on), which is a common doping agent. By contrast, microsomal steroid hydroxylases did not convert OT. Spectroscopic binding assays revealed dissociation constants of 17.7 µM and 5.4 µM for CYP11B1 and CYP11B2, respectively, whereas no observable binding spectra emerged for CYP11A1. Catalytic efficiencies of OT conversion were determined to be 46 min(-1) mM(-1) for CYP11A1, 741 min(-1) mM(-1) for CYP11B1, and 3338 min(-1) mM(-1) for CYP11B2, which is in the same order of magnitude as for the natural substrates but shows a preference of CYP11B2 for OT conversion. Products of OT metabolism by the CYP11B subfamily members were produced at a milligram scale with a recombinant Escherichia coli-based whole-cell system. They were identified by nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to be 11β-OH-OT for both CYP11B isoforms, whereby CYP11B2 additionally formed 11β,18-diOH-OT and 11β-OH-OT-18-al, which rearranges to its tautomeric form 11β,18-expoxy-18-OH-OT. CYP11A1 produces six metabolites, which are proposed to include 2-OH-OT, 16-OH-OT, and 2,16-diOH-OT based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analyses. All three enzymes are shown to be inhibited by OT in their natural function. The extent of inhibition thereby depends on the affinity of the enzyme for OT and the strongest effect was demonstrated for CYP11B2. These findings suggest that steroidogenic cytochrome P450 enzymes can contribute to drug metabolism and should be considered in drug design and toxicity studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDrug metabolism and disposition: the biological fate of chemicals
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)227-37
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 02.2016


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