Cytochrome P450 refers to a superfamily of haeme proteins present in all mammalian
cell types, except mature red blood cells and skeletal muscle cells. It is
also known to be widely distributed in plants, micro-organisms and animals.
They catalyse the oxidation of a wide variety of structurally diverse
compounds. Substrates for these enzyme systems include:
The cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes is involved in:
- endogenously synthesised compounds such as steroids, fatty acids (including
prostaglandins and leukotrienes) and
- compounds such as drugs, food additives (i.e. flavors), industrial
byproducts that enter the body through food sources, injection, inhalation
from the air, or absorption through the skin.
This huge family of enzymes can be classified into individual
- inactivation or activation of therapeutic agents,
- conversion of chemicals to highly reactive molecules which may produce
cell damage, death or mutations,
- participate in steroid hormone biosynthesis and
- metabolism of fatty acids and their derivatives.