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J Toxicol Sci. 2017;42(5):641-650. doi: 10.2131/jts.42.641.

A cell-based assay using HepaRG cells for predicting drug-induced phospholipidosis.

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Pharmacokinetics and Safety Department, Drug Research Center, Kyoto Research Center, Kaken Pharmaceutical Co., LTD.
Department of Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Kindai University.


The utility of HepaRG cells as an in vitro cell-based assay system for predicting drug-induced phospholipidosis (PLD) was investigated. In experiment 1, 10 PLD-positive compounds and 11 PLD-negative compounds were selected. HepaRG cells were treated with each compound for 48 hr. In experiment 2, loratadine and desloratadine, a major metabolite of loratadine, were used to assess metabolic activation for PLD. HepaRG cells were treated with loratadine and desloratadine in the presence or absence of 500 μM 1-aminobenzotriazole (ABT), a broad CYP inhibitor, for 48 hr. After treatment with compounds in experiments 1 and 2, the relative fluorescence intensity (RFI) was measured using LYSO-ID Red dye to assess the PLD induction. In experiment 1, our cell-based assay system using HepaRG cells exhibited 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity for predicting drug-induced PLD. In experiment 2, loratadine increased the RFI in the PLD assay. However, the increase in the RFI was not observed in co-treatment with loratadine and ABT. In addition, desloratadine increased the RFI in the presence and absence of ABT. These results suggested that metabolic activation of loratadine may contribute to PLD in HepaRG cells. We newly demonstrated that HepaRG cells have a high ability for predicting drug-induced PLD. In addition, we newly showed that HepaRG cells may predict drug-induced PLD mediated by metabolic activation of loratadine. Thus, a cell-based assay system using HepaRG cells is a useful model for predicting drug-induced PLD.


HepaRG cells; LYSO-ID Red; Loratadine; Phospholipidosis

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