Hepatic Transcript Levels for Genes Coding for Enzymes Associated with Xenobiotic Metabolism are Altered with Age

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Metabolism studies are crucial for data interpretation from rodent toxicity and carcinogenicity studies. Metabolism studies are usually conducted in 6 to 8 week old rodents. Long-term studies often continue beyond 100 weeks of age. The potential for age-related changes in transcript levels of genes encoding for enzymes associated with metabolism was evaluated in the liver of male F344/N rats at 32, 58, and 84 weeks of age. Differential expression was found between the young and old rats for genes whose products are involved in both phase I and phase II metabolic pathways. Thirteen cytochrome P450 genes from CYP families 1-3 showed alterations in expression in the older rats. A marked age-related decrease in expression was found for 4 members of the Cyp3a family that are critical for drug metabolism in the rat. Immunohistochemical results confirmed a significant decrease in Cyp3a2 and Cyp2c11 protein levels with age. This indicates that the metabolic capacity of male rats changes throughout a long-term study. Conducting multiple hepatic microarray analyses during the conduct of a long-term study can provide a global view of potential metabolic changes that might occur. Alterations that are considered crucial to the interpretation of long-term study results could then be confirmed by subsequent metabolic studies.

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