Microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase and cytosolic sulphotransferase share many substrates, such as phenols and hydroxamic acids. In a search for a selective inhibitor of sulphation, several phenolic compounds were tested. 2,6-Dichloro-4-nitrophenol is introduced as a selective inhibitor of sulphation in vivo, having no effect on UDP-glucuronyltransferase activity. As substrate for both conjugating enzymes the phenolic drug harmol (7-hydroxy-1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole) was used. In the rat in vivo 2,6-dichloro-4-nitrophenol caused almost complete inhibition of harmol sulphation after a single intraperitoneal injection (26μmol/kg) for 48h; the percentage of harmol sulphated decreased from 75% in controls to 5% in the treated rats. The percentage of harmol glucuronidated increased from 25 to 95%. Pentachlorophenol was equally effective but also highly toxic. Salicylamide had only a very-short-lasting inhibitory effect on sulphation. In vitro, 2,6-dichloro-4-nitrophenol inhibited sulphation of harmol by a rat liver postmitochondrial supernatant completely at 1μm, whereas even at 100μm it had no effect on glucuronidation of harmol. It is concluded that 2,6-dichloro-4-nitrophenol is a selective inhibitor of sulphation and, further, that its long duration of action makes it suitable for studies on the regulatory role of sulphation in some biological processes.

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