The magnitude and duration of drug action is determined partially by the activity of the drug metabolizing enzyme systems in the liver. The pharmacological effectiveness of many drugs is altered during the aging process. In this study, the regulation of heme metabolism and hemoprotein content was examined in livers of aged female rats. The activities of hexobarbital hydroxylase and aniline hydroxylase, indicators of mono-oxygenase function, were decreased in aged rats by 31% and 24%, respectively, as compared to values in young rats. This was accompanied by a proportional decrease in the level of cytochrome P-450 (26%). Additionally, the activity of δ-aminolevulinic acid synthetase (ALA-S), the rate-limiting enzyme in heme synthesis, and the microsomal concentration of heme were also decreased by 33% and 26%, respectively, in these animals. In contrast, the basal activity of microsomal heme oxygenase (MHO), the rate-limiting enzyme in heme degradation, and the percent heme saturation of tryptophan pyrrolase (TPO), a sensitive indicator of changes in the availability of heme in the "regulatory" heme pool, were increased by (87%) and (31%), respectively, in the aged rats. The serum concentration of bilirubin, an indicato of erythrocyte breakdown and/or liver function was likewise increased in these animals. In view of these findings, we suggest that the high activity of MHO and the low level of ALA-S may be a significant causative factor for the decreased microsomal concentration of heme, cytochrome-P-450 and its dependent monooxygenase activities in senescent female rats.
- Cytochrome P-450
- Heme metabolism