Historical Background and Description of the Cytochrome P450 Monooxygenase System

  • J. B. Schenkman
Part of the Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology book series (HEP, volume 105)


Perhaps the beginning of the cytochrome P450 monooxygenase story should acknowledge the early compilation of knowledge of the metabolism of xenobiotics (compounds foreign to the body) by R.T. Williams in 1947 and the subsequent, much larger volume (Williams 1959). In those texts Williams described the many different metabolites produced from xenobiotics in vivo by animals and excreted by a variety of routes. It was a well-organized attempt to show metabolic pathways for handling compounds ingested by animals and recognized biochemical reactions as involved in metabolism. Brodie’s laboratory was one of the first to begin in vitro biochemical studies on xenobiotic metabolism, and from the latter part of the 1940s through the 1960s (Brodie et al. 1955) produced a stream of outstanding scientists who further led the field in the study of the oxidative enzymes of xenobiotic metabolism. From such studies, as well as work from Miller’s laboratory (Mueller and Miller 1953), it became clear that liver microsomes were the source of NADPH-dependent, oxidative enzymes capable of metabolizing a number of xenobiotic compounds. Since the 1950s more than 800 different xenobiotics, ranging from drugs to organic chemicals, have been found to be substrates for liver microsomal oxidative enzymes.


Liver Microsome Hepatic Microsomal Cytochrome Hydroxy Amino Acid Cytochrome P4S0 Liver Microsomal Cytochrome 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1993

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