In cell biology, microsomes are vesicle-like artifacts re-formed from pieces of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) when eukaryotic cells are broken-up in the laboratory; by definition, microsomes are not ordinarily present in living cells.
Microsomes can be concentrated and separated from other cellular debris by differential centrifugation. Unbroken cells, nuclei, and mitochondria sediment out at 10,000g, whereas soluble enzymes and fragmented ER, which contains cytochrome P450 (CYP), remain in solution (g is the Earth's gravitational acceleration). At 100,000g, achieved by faster centrifuge rotation, ER sediments out of solution as a pellet but the soluble enzymes remain in the supernatant. In this way, cytochrome P450 in microsomes is concentrated and isolated. Microsomes have a reddish brown color, due to the presence of the iron-containing co-factor, heme (haem), in the P450s. P450s are highly abundant in livers of rats, mice and humans.
Microsomes are a valuable tool for investigating the metabolism of compounds (enzyme inhibition, clearance and metabolite identification) and for examining drug-drug interactions by in vitro-research. Researchers often select microsome lots based on the enzyme activity level of specific CYPs. Some lots are available to study specific populations (example: lung microsomes from smokers or non-smokers) or divided into classifications to meet target CYP activity levels for inhibition and metabolism studies.
- MeSH A11.284.835.540
- The use of microsomes to measure clearance The performance of in vitro microsomal clearance studies including analysis of the data.
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