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In vivo effects of chronic contamination with depleted uranium on CYP3A and associated nuclear receptors PXR and CAR in the rat



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M. Souidi, Y. Gueguen, C. Linard, N. Dudoignon, S. Grison, C. Baudelin, C. Marquette, P. Gourmelon, J. Aigueperse, I. Dublineau
Toxicology 214 (2005) 113-122


In addition to its natural presence at high concentrations in some areas, uranium has several civilian and military applications that could cause contamination of human populations, mainly through chronic ingestion. Reports describe the accumulation of this radionuclide in some organs (including the bone, kidney, and liver) after acute or chronic contamination and show that it produces chemical or radiological toxicity or both. The literature is essentially devoid of information about uranium-related cellular and molecular effects on metabolic functions such as xenobiotic detoxification. The present study thus evaluated rats chronically exposed to depleted uranium in their drinking water (1 mg/(rat day)) for 9 months. Our specific aim was to evaluate the hepatic and extrahepatic mRNA expression of CYP3A1/A2, CYP2B1, and CYP1A1 as well as of the nuclear receptors PXR, CAR, and RXR in these rats.
CYP3A1 mRNA expression was significantly higher in the brain (200%), liver (300%), and kidneys (900%) of exposed rats compared with control rats, while CYP3A2 mRNA levels were higher in the lungs (300%) and liver (200%), and CYP2B1 mRNA expression in the kidneys (300%). Expression of CYP1A1 mRNA did not change significantly during this study. PXR mRNA levels increased in the brain (200%), liver (150%), and kidneys (200%). Uranium caused CAR mRNA expression in the lungs to double. Expression of RXR mRNA did not change significantly in the course of this study, nor did the hepatic activity of CYP2C, CYP3A, CYP2A, or CYP2B.
Uranium probably affects the expression of drug-metabolizing CYP enzymes through the PXR and CAR nuclear receptors.
These results suggest that the stimulating effect of uranium on these enzymes might lead to hepatic or extrahepatic toxicity (or both) during drug treatment and then affect the entire organism.