"Animal-Plant Warfare" is one of the hypotheses for the evolution of drug-metabolizing P450s. To address the validity of this hypothesis, we examined the induction of xenobiotic-metabolizing P450s by 12 plant toxins in rats, using hepatic activity for testosterone metabolism as the index. The compounds tested were aconitine, morphine, tubocurarine, physostigmine, pilocarpine, muscarine, cocaine, atropine, amygdalin, digitonin, nicotine and solanin. Drinking water containing a test compound was given to rats for 4 days, and the hepatic activity of testosterone metabolism was determined together with monitoring body weight gain and liver weight as the indices of toxicity. The results showed that while cocaine and nicotine have a minor ability to increase testosterone 16β-hydroxylase activity, a marker activity for the CYP2B1 and 2, all other compounds did not have any such effect. No correlation was observed between a change in 16β-hydroxylase and toxicity caused by toxins. Therefore, these results did not support the idea that the inducibility of the CYP2B subfamily in animals is acquired through "Animal-Plant Warfare". Several compounds examined here increased or decreased hepatic activities of testosterone 2α-, 6β-, 7α- and 16α-hydroxylation and 17-oxidation, indicating a possible effect on the CYP2A, 2C and 3A subfamily. Of these effects, a moderate correlation (r<0.49) was observed in the changes in the activities of 2α-/16α-hydroxylation and 17-oxidation vs. that in toxicity. It is therefore suggested that inhibition or suppression of the expression of CYP2C11 is one of the mechanisms in the toxicity of plant toxins for rats, although it comes from an examination using limited numbers of compounds.
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