Apigenin inhibits rat neurosteroidogenic 5α-reductase 1 and 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase

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Apigenin, a common flavonoid, has extensive pharmacological activities. Apigenin inhibits some steroid biosynthetic enzymes, suggesting that it may block neurosteroid synthesis. Neurosteroids play many important roles in neurological functions. The objective of the present study is to investigate effects of apigenin on neurosteroidogenic enzymes, 5α-reductase 1 (SRD5A1), 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (AKR1C9), and retinol dehydrogenase 2 (RoDH2), in rats. SRD5A1, AKR1C9, and RoDH2 were expressed in COS-1 cells and the effects of apigenin on these enzymes and modes of action were explored using radiolabeled substrates and thin-layer chromatographic separation coupled with radiometry. Apigenin inhibited SRD5A1, AKR1C9, and RoDH2 activities with IC50 values of 100, 0.891 ± 0.065, and >100 μM, respectively. Apigenin competitively inhibited rat AKR1C9 when its substrate 5α-dihydrotestosterone was used and uncompetitively inhibited the enzyme when cofactor NADPH was used. In conclusion, apigenin is a potent inhibitor of rat AKR1C9, thereby controlling the rate of neurosteroid biosynthesis.

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