Development of basal and induced aryl hydrocarbon (benzo[a]pyrene) hydroxylase activity in the chicken embryo in ovo

J. W. Hamilton, M. S. Denison, S. E. Bloom

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102 Scopus citations


The development of the hepatic microsomal mixed-function oxidase system was studied to determine the basal level of embryonic enzyme activity and the inducibility of this system throughout growth and differentiation. Chicken embryo livers were assayed for basal and inducible hepatic aryl hydrocarbon hydroxylase (AHHase; designated elsewhere as AHH) activity from the first appearance of the liver as a discrete organ at 5 days of incubation (DI) through day 10 after hatching. In addition, whole-embryo and viscera preparations were assayed at 3 and 4 DI. Basal AHHase activity was equal to or greater than adult levels from 3 DI through hatching in all preparations (approximately 0.3-0.5 nmol/min per mg). A 3-fold increase in basal activity above adult values occurred at hatching. The onset of inducibility in chicken embryo liver between 5 and 6 DI was concomitant with hepatocyte differentiation. A developmental profile of 24-hr 3,4,3',4'-tetrachlorobiphenyl-induced AHHase activity showed 15- to 30-fold induction over controls from 7 DI through day 10 after hatching, with a maximum of 15 nmol/min per mg at 14 DI and day 1 after hatching, a specific activity >50% greater than maximal induction in the adult. Embryonic AHHase activity was also induced by 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, 3-methylcholanthrene, β-naphthoflavone, and sodium phenobarbital. Induction kinetics throughout embryonic development were similar to those reported for the adult chicken and other animals. These findings demonstrate development of a mixed-function oxidase system in very early embryogenesis and then in the liver as it differentiates. Liver AHHase activity is inducible throughout development and perinatally but such activity is under strict developmental regulation. The chicken embryo has adult levels of AHHase activity which would be sufficient to achieve metabolic activation of promutagens/carcinogens before and after hepatocyte differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3372-3376
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11 I
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General
  • Genetics


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