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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 Dec 16;416(3-4):313-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.11.032. Epub 2011 Nov 15.

Bile salt export pump inhibitors are associated with bile acid-dependent drug-induced toxicity in sandwich-cultured hepatocytes.

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The Laboratory of Biopharmaceutics, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.


Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is a major reason for the dropout of candidate compounds from drug testing and the withdrawal of pharmaceuticals from clinical use. Among the various mechanisms of liver injury, the accumulation of bile acids (BAs) within hepatocytes is thought to be a primary mechanism for the development of DILI. Although bile salt export pump (BSEP) dysfunction is considered a susceptibility factor for DILI, little is known about the relationship between drug-induced BSEP dysfunction and BA-dependent hepatotoxicity. Furthermore, few methods are at hand for the systematic and quantitative evaluation of BA-dependent DILI. This study aimed to construct a model of DILI by employing sandwich-cultured hepatocytes (SCHs). SCHs can be used to assess functions of canalicular transporters such as BSEP and the activity of metabolic enzymes. Here, the impact of 26 test compounds (ritonavir, troglitazone, etc.) was investigated on BA-dependent cytotoxicity in SCHs. SCHs were exposed to each compound for 24h with or without BAs (glycochenodeoxycholic acid, deoxycholic acid, etc.). As a result, BA-dependent toxicity was observed for 11 test compounds in SCHs treated in the presence of BAs, while no signs of toxicity were observed for SCHs treated in the absence of BAs. Of the 11 compounds, nine were known BSEP inhibitors. Moreover, for some compounds, an increase in the severity of BA-dependent toxicity was observed in SCHs that were co-treated with 1-aminobenzotriazole, a non-selective inhibitor of cytochrome P450 (CYP450)-mediated drug metabolism. These results indicate that the SCH-based model is likely to prove useful for the evaluation of BA-dependent DILI, including the effects of drug metabolism and BSEP inhibition on liver injury.

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