Toxicity of epoxy fatty acids and related compounds cells expressing human soluble epoxide hydrolase

Jessica F. Greene, John W. Newman, Kristin C. Williamson, Bruce D. Hammock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) is suggested to alter the mode of action and increase the toxic potency of fatty acid epoxides. To characterize the structural features necessary for sEH-dependent epoxy fatty acid toxicity, 75 aliphatic compounds were assayed for cytotoxicity in the presence and absence of sEH. Three groups of aliphatic epoxide-diol pairs were described by their observed differential toxicity. Group I compounds were typified by terminal epoxides whose toxicity was reduced in the presence of sEH. Group II compounds were toxic in either their epoxide or diol form, but toxicity was unaffected by sEH. Group III compounds exhibited sEH-dependent toxicity and were therefore used to investigate the structural elements required for cytotoxicity in this study. The optimal structure for group III compounds appeared to be a fatty acid 18-20 atoms long (e.g., a carbon backbone plus a terminal heteroatom) with an epoxide positioned between C-7 and C-12. In the absence of sEH, replacement of epoxides with a vicinal diol was required for toxicity. While diol stereochemistry was unimportant, vicinal diol-induced toxicity exhibited fewer positional constraints to toxicity than sEH- dependent epoxide toxicity. Tested fatty acids and esters with neither an epoxide nor a vicinal diol were not toxic. These data support the hypothesis that long-chain epoxy fatty acid methyl esters are potential pro-toxins metabolized by sEH to more toxic diols. Furthermore, our results suggest that the endogenous compounds, leukotoxin methyl ester, 9,10(Z)-epoxyoctadec- 12(Z)-enoic acid methyl ester, and isoleukotoxin methyl ester, 12,13(Z)- epoxyoctadec-9(Z)-enoic acid methyl ester, are structurally optimized to elicit the observed effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
JournalChemical Research in Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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