Role of microsomal retinol/sterol dehydrogenase-like short-chain dehydrogenases/reductases in the oxidation and epimerization of 3α-hydroxysteroids in human tissues

Academic Article


  • Allopregnanolone (ALLO) and androsterone (ADT) are naturally occurring 3α-hydroxysteroids that act as positive allosteric regulators of γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors. In addition, ADT activates nuclear farnesoid X receptor and ALLO activates pregnane X receptor. At least with respect to γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptors, the biological activity of ALLO and ADT depends on the 3α-hydroxyl group and is lost upon its conversion to either 3-ketosteroid or 3β-hydroxyl epimer. Such strict structure-activity relationships suggest that the oxidation or epimerization of 3α-hydroxysteroids mayserve as physiologically relevant mechanisms for the control of the local concentrations of bioactive 3α-hydroxysteroids. The exact enzymes responsible for the oxidation and epimerization of 3α-hydroxysteroids in vivo have not yet been identified, but our previous studies showed that microsomal nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-dependent short-chain dehydrogenases/reductases (SDRs) with dual retinol/sterol dehydrogenase substrate specificity (RoDH-like group of SDRs) can oxidize and epimerize 3α-hydroxysteroids in vitro. Here, we present the first evidence that microsomal nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide-dependent 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/epimerase activities are widely distributed in human tissues with the highest activity levels found in liver and testis and lower levels in lung, spleen, brain, kidney, and ovary.Wedemonstrate that RoDH-like SDRs contribute to the oxidation and epimerization of ALLO and ADT in living cells, and show that RoDH enzymes are expressed in tissues that have microsomal 3α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/epimerase activities. Together, these results provide further support for the role of RoDH-like SDRs in human metabolism of 3α-hydroxysteroids and offer a new insight into the enzymology of ALLO and ADT inactivation. Copyright © 2007 by The Endocrine Society.
  • Published In

  • Endocrinology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Belyaeva OV; Chetyrkin SV; Clark AL; Kostereva NV; SantaCruz KS; Chronwall BM; Kedishvili NY
  • Start Page

  • 2148
  • End Page

  • 2156
  • Volume

  • 148
  • Issue

  • 5