The cytochrome P450 superfamily of enzymes play a central part in the metabolism of carcinogens and anti-cancer drugs. The expression, cellular localisation, and distribution of different forms of P450 and the functionally associated enzymes epoxide hydrolase and glutathione S-transferases have been investigated in oesophageal cancer and non-neoplastic oesophageal tissue using immunohistochemistry. Expression of the different enzymes was confined to epithelial cells in both non-neoplastic samples and tumour samples except the CYP3A was also identified in mast cells and glutathione S-transferase pi was present in chronic inflammatory cells. CYP1A was present in a small percentage of non-neoplastic samples but both CYP2C and CYP3A were absent. Epoxide hydrolase was present in half of the non-neoplastic samples and the different classes of glutathione S-transferase were present in a low number of samples. In carcinomas CYP1A, CYP3A, epoxide hydrolase, and glutathione S-transferase pi were expressed in at least 60% of samples. The expression of glutathione S-transferases alpha and mu were significantly less in adenocarcinoma compared with squamous carcinoma.
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