The responses of hepatic delta-aminolaevulinate synthase and microsomal haem oxygenase to inducers were examined in pregnant rats. 2-Allyl-2-isopropylacetamide-mediated induction of delta-aminolaevulinate synthase was greatly decreased during pregnancy and in the early post-partum period. Administration of allylisopropylacetamide to pseudopregnant rats induced delta-aminolaevulinate synthase normally. Treatment of pregnant rats with cortisol failed to restore the drug-mediated induction of delta-aminolaevulinate synthase. Microsomal cytochrome P-450 content and the activities of drug-metabolizing enzymes such as aniline hydroxylase and ethylmorphine. N-demethylase were significantly lowered during pregnancy. In contrast with the greatly impaired induction of delta-aminolaevulinate synthase, the induction of haem oxygenase in response to CoCl2 remained unaltered in pregnant rats. The normal perturbations of delta-aminolaevulinate synthase, consisting of an initial inhibition followed by a rebound increase in the enzyme activity associated with CoCL2 treatment, were observed during pregnancy. These findings indicate that hormones and metabolic factors associated with gestation exert significant but differential controls on the induction patterns of delta-aminolaevulinate synthase and haem oxygenase.

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