A computational study on the biotransformation of alkenylbenzenes by a selection of CYPs: Reflections on their possible bioactivation

Lorenzo Pedroni, Jochem Louisse, Jean Lou C.M. Dorne, Chiara Dall'Asta, Luca Dellafiora*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Alkenylbenzenes are aromatic compounds found in several vegetable foods that can cause genotoxicity upon bioactivation by members of the cytochrome P450 (CYP) family, forming 1′-hydroxy metabolites. These intermediates act as proximate carcinogens and can be further converted into reactive 1′-sulfooxy metabolites, which are the ultimate carcinogens responsible for genotoxicity. Safrole, a member of this class, has been banned as a food or feed additive in many countries based on its genotoxicity and carcinogenicity. However, it can still enter the food and feed chain. There is limited information about the toxicity of other alkenylbenzenes that may be present in safrole-containing foods, such as myristicin, apiole, and dillapiole. In vitro studies showed safrole as mainly bioactivated by CYP2A6 to form its proximate carcinogen, while for myristicin this is mainly done by CYP1A1. However, it is not known whether CYP1A1 and CYP2A6 can activate apiole and dillapiole. The present study uses an in silico pipeline to investigate this knowledge gap and determine whether CYP1A1 and CYP2A6 may play a role in the bioactivation of these alkenylbenzenes. The study found that the bioactivation of apiole and dillapiole by CYP1A1 and CYP2A6 is limited, possibly indicating that these compounds may have limited toxicity, while describing a possible role of CYP1A1 in the bioactivation of safrole. The study expands the current understanding of safrole toxicity and bioactivation and helps understand the mechanisms of CYPs involved in the bioactivation of alkenylbenzenes. This information is essential for a more informed analysis of alkenylbenzenes toxicity and risk assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number153471
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Alkenylbenzenes
  • Apiol
  • CYP1A1
  • CYP2A6
  • Cytochrome P450
  • Dillapiol
  • In silico toxicology
  • Molecular modeling
  • Myristicin
  • Safrole


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