Isolated rat hepatocytes incubated with two suicide substrates of cytochrome P-450, 2-allyl-2-isopropylacetamide and 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-4-ethyl-1,4-dihydro-2,6-dimethylpyridine(4-ethyl-DD C), convert exogenous mesohaem and deuterohaem into N-alkylated mesoporphyrins and deuteroporphyrins respectively. The N-alkylated mesoporphyrins can be separated by h.p.l.c. from the corresponding N-alkylated protoporphyrins originating from endogenous haem; in this way the contribution of both endogenous and exogenous pools of haem can be studied in the same experiment. N-Alkylated mesoporphyrin exhibits chiral properties, and its isomeric composition and/or amount are dependent on the particular cytochrome P-450 enzyme predominating in the cell. These findings provide additional and more direct evidence that exchangeable haem is taken up by cytochrome P-450 before being N-alkylated.

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