On the mechanisms of induction of cancer-protective enzymes: A unifying proposal

H. J. Prochaska, M. J. De Long, P. Talalay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

249 Scopus citations


Induction of detoxification enzymes is a major mechanism whereby a wide variety of chemical agents protect rodents against neoplastic, mutagenic, and other toxicities of carcinogens. The enzyme NAD(P)H: (quinone acceptor) oxidoreductase (EC can protect against the toxicities of quinones and is a useful marker for protective enzyme induction. Quinone reductase can be induced in murine Hepa 1c1c7 hepatoma cells and 3T3 embryo fibroblasts by compounds that are chemoprotectors in vivo, including some phenolic antioxidants, azo dyes, aromatic diamines, and aminophenols. Structurally dissimilar catechols (1,2-diphenols) and hydroquinones (1,4-diphenols) induce quinone reductase in these systems, but resorcinol (1,3-diphenols) and its substituted analogues are inactive. Furthermore, only aromatic 1,2- and 1,4-diamines and aminophenols are inducers, whereas the 1,3-diamines are completely inactive. These findings suggest that the functional capacity to form quinones or quinonediimines, rather than the precise structure, is essential for inductive activity and that the generation of the signal for enzyme induction depends upon oxidation-reduction lability. The observations that some chemoprotective compounds (e.g., azo dyes, β-naphtoflavone) induce both cytochromes P-450 and quinone reductase, whereas others (e.g., tert-butylhydroquinone) induce only quinone reductase, can be reconciled by the fact that inducers of the first type are metabolized by P-450 enzymes to form products that are functionally similar to compounds of the second type.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8232-8236
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'On the mechanisms of induction of cancer-protective enzymes: A unifying proposal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this