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Toxicol In Vitro. 1992 Jan;6(1):21-5.

Toxicity of coumarin and various methyl derivatives in cultures of rat hepatocytes and V79 cells.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Medical School, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK.


The toxicity of coumarin and various simple methyl derivatives in rat hepatocyte and V79 cell cultures was studied to investigate further the mechanism of coumarin hepatotoxicity. Coumarin was six times more toxic in hepatocyte cultures from phenobarbitone (PB)-treated rats than in those from untreated rats. At concentrations below 3 mm, coumarin did not affect the survival of V79 lung fibroblasts. SKF-525A inhibited coumarin-induced toxicity in hepatocytes cultured from PB-treated rats, whereas depletion of hepatocyte glutathione (GSH) levels with buthionine sulphoximine (BSO) significantly increased toxicity. Dihydrocoumarin (DHC) had little effect on the survival of cultured hepatocytes, indicating that the 3,4-double bond is an important determinant of coumarin toxicity. In general, the toxicity of coumarin in hepatocyte cultures was reduced by substitution with one or more methyl groups. 3-Methylcoumarin (MeC), however, was more toxic than coumarin itself in hepatocyte cultures from untreated rats. Except for 3,4-diMeC, the methyl derivatives were markedly more toxic in rat hepatocytes than in V79 cell cultures. The data obtained for coumarin and 4-MeC, and possibly 6-MeC and 7-MeC, are consistent with hepatocyte toxicity being due to the cytochrome P-450-dependent formation of one or more toxic metabolites that may be detoxified by reacting with GSH. This was less apparent for 3-MeC and 3,4-diMeC, although depletion of GSH levels significantly increased the hepatocyte toxicity of both compounds.


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