Distribution of soluble and microsomal epoxide hydrolase in the mouse brain and its contribution to cerebral epoxyeicosatrienoic acid metabolism

A. Marowsky, J. Burgener, J R Falck, J. M. Fritschy, M. Arand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Epoxide hydrolases comprise a family of enzymes important in detoxification and conversion of lipid signaling molecules, namely epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs), to their supposedly less active form, dihydroxyeicosatrienoic acids (DHETs). EETs control cerebral blood flow, exert analgesic, anti-inflammatory and angiogenic effects and protect against ischemia. Although the role of soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) in EET metabolism is well established, knowledge on its detailed distribution in rodent brain is rather limited. Here, we analyzed the expression pattern of sEH and of another important member of the EH family, microsomal epoxide hydrolase (mEH), in mouse brain by immunohistochemistry. To investigate the functional relevance of these enzymes in brain, we explored their individual contribution to EET metabolism in acutely isolated brain cells from respective EH -/- mice and wild type littermates by mass spectrometry. We find sEH immunoreactivity almost exclusively in astrocytes throughout the brain, except in the central amygdala, where neurons are also positive for sEH. mEH immunoreactivity is abundant in brain vascular cells (endothelial and smooth muscle cells) and in choroid plexus epithelial cells. In addition, mEH immunoreactivity is present in specific neuronal populations of the hippocampus, striatum, amygdala, and cerebellum, as well as in a fraction of astrocytes. In freshly isolated cells from hippocampus, where both enzymes are expressed, sEH mediates the bulk of EET metabolism. Yet we observe a significant contribution of mEH, pointing to a novel role of this enzyme in the regulation of physiological processes. Furthermore, our findings indicate the presence of additional, hitherto unknown cerebral epoxide hydrolases. Taken together, cerebral EET metabolism is driven by several epoxide hydrolases, a fact important in view of the present targeting of sEH as a potential therapeutic target. Our findings suggest that these different enzymes have individual, possibly quite distinct roles in brain function and cerebral EET metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-661
Number of pages16
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 6 2009


  • EH expression pattern
  • LC-MS/MS
  • arachidonic acid metabolites
  • astrocytes
  • endothelial cells
  • immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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