After its administration to intact rats, haemoglobin haem was incorporated into hepatic tryptophan pyrrolase as shown by the marked increase in functional constitution of this enzyme. Incorporation of haemoglobin haem into cytochrome P-450 was demonstrated in intact rats and in the isolated rat liver perfused with haemoglobin-free medium. In both systems, haemoglobin haem restored cytochrome P-450 content and its dependent mixed-function-oxidase activity after substrate-induced destruction of the cytochrome P-450 haem moiety. Further confirmation that haemoglobin haem could be incorporated prosthetically into cytochrome P-450 was achieved by administration of [3H]haemoglobin to rats and subsequent isolation and characterization of radiolabelled substrate-alkylated products of cytochrome P-450 haem. Our findings indicate that, although hepatic uptake of parenteral haemoglobin is slower than that of haem, it appears to serve as an effective haem donor to the intrahepatic 'free' haem pool. Thus parenteral haemoglobin may warrant consideration as a therapeutic alternative to haem in the acute hepatic porphyrias.
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