Hexachlorobenzene stimulates uroporphyria in low affinity AHR mice without increasing CYP1A2

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Hexachlorobenzene (HCB), a weak ligand of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), causes hepatic uroporphyrin (URO) accumulation (uroporphyria) in humans and animals. CYP1A2 has been shown to be necessary in the development of uroporphyria in mice. Using mice expressing the low affinity form of the AH receptor (AHRd), we investigated whether the enhancement of uroporphyria by HCB involves an obligatory increase in CYP1A2 as measured by specific enzyme assays and immunoblotting. We compared the ability of HCB, in combination with iron dextran and the porphyrin precursor, 5-aminolevulinate (ALA), to cause uroporphyria in a strain of mice (C57BL/6) which expresses the high affinity form of the receptor (AHRb1), with three strains of mice (SWR and two 129 sublines) expressing the low affinity AHRd. In C57BL/6 mice, HCB-enhanced uroporphyria was associated with a doubling of CYP1A2. HCB treatment produced uroporphyria in iron-loaded mice expressing AHRd, even though there was little or no increase in CYP1A2. Cyp1a2(−/−) mice in a 129 background were completely resistant to HCB-induced uroporphyria, and female Hfe(−/−) 129 mice, in which the levels of hepatic CYP1A2 were half of those of the male levels, responded poorly. The effect of exogenous iron, administered in the form of iron dextran, on HCB enhancement of uroporphryia could be replicated utilizing the endogenous hepatic iron accumulated in 129 Hfe(−/−) mice. In conclusion, some minimal basal expression of CYP1A2 is essential for HCB-mediated enhancement of uroporphyria, but increases in CYP1A2 above that level are not essential.

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