Assessment of regional cytochrome P450 activities in rat liver slices using resorufin substrates and fluorescence confocal laser cytometry

John T. Heinonen, Jaspreet S. Sidhu, Maureen T. Reilly, Federico M. Farin, Curtis J. Omiecinski, David L. Eaton, Terrance J. Kavanagh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Characterizing constitutive activities and inducibility of various cytochrome P450 isozymes is important for elucidating species and individual differences in susceptibility to many toxicants. Although expression of certain P450s has been studied in homogenized tissues, the ability to assess functional enzyme activity without tissue disruption would further our understanding of interactive factors that modulate P450 activities. We used precision-cut, viable rat liver slices and confocal laser cytometry to determine the regional enzyme activities of P450 isozymes in situ. Livers from control and β-naphthoflavone (βNF)-treated rats were sectioned with a Krumdieck tissue slicer into 250-μm thick sections. A slice perfusion chamber that mounts on the cytometer stage was developed to allow for successive measurement of region-specific P450-dependent O- dealkylation of 7-ethoxy-, 7-pentoxy-, and 7-benzyloxyresorufin (EROD, PROD, and BROD activity, respectively) in the same liver slice. Images of the accumulated fluorescent resorufin product within the tissue were acquired using a confocal laser cytometer in confocal mode. As expected, slices isolated from βNF-treated rats showed high levels of centrilobular EROD activity compared to slices from control rats, whereas PROD and BROD activities remained at control levels. These techniques should allow for the accurate quantification of regional and cell-specific P450 enzyme activity and, with subsequent analysis of the same slice, the ability to correlate specific P450 mRNAs or other factors with enzymatic activity. Moreover, these techniques should be amenable to examination of similar phenomena in other tissues such as lung and kidney, where marked heterogeneity in cellular P450 expression patterns is also known to occur.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)536-543
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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