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Drug Metab Lett. 2018;12(1):14-23. doi: 10.2174/1872312812666180119114013.

Cytochrome P450 1A2 Messenger RNA is a More Reliable Marker than Cytochrome P450 1A2 Activity, Phenacetin O-Deethylation, for Assessment of Induction Potential of Drug-Metabolizing Enzymes Using HepaRG Cells.

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Department of Regeneration Medicine, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Yokohama, Japan.
Research Unit/Innovative Medical Science, Sohyaku Innovative Research Division, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, Toda, Japan.
Translational Research Department, Sohyaku Innovative Research Division, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, Nihonbashi, Japan.
Discovery Technology Laboratories Sohyaku Innovative Research Division, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, Toda, Japan.
Department of Clinical Pharmaceutics, Nihon Pharmaceutical University, Kitaadachi, Japan.



The HepaRG cells have key drug metabolism functionalities comparable to those of primary human hepatocytes. Many studies have reported that this cell line can be used as a reliable in vitro model for human drug metabolism studies, including the assessment of cytochrome P450 (CYP) induction.


The objective of this study is to determine whether CYP mRNA level measurement is superior to the CYP enzyme activity measurement as a convenient high-throughput method for evaluating CYP induction potential using HepaRG cells.


QuantiGene Plex 2.0 Assay and LC/MS/MS. mRNA expression levels and enzyme activities of CYP1A2, CYP2B6, and CYP3A in HepaRG cells treated with prototypical inducers of each CYP isoform [omeprazole (OME) for CYP1A2, phenobarbital (PB) for CYP2B6, and rifampicin (RIF) for CYP3A] were evaluated.


Although the activities of CYP2B6 and CYP3A were induced by treatment with PB and RIF, we found that the activity of phenacetin O-deethylase (PHOD), which is known as a marker of the activity of CYP1A2, was also enhanced by treatment with these non-CYP1A2 inducers in HepaRG cells. Based on previously published reports, we hypothesized that the expression ratio of CYP3A to CYP1A2 is much higher in HepaRG cells than in human hepatocytes; this may result in a nonnegligible contribution of CYP3A to the PHOD reaction in HepaRG cells. Studies using CYP3A inhibitor and pregnane X receptor-knockout HepaRG cells supported this hypothesis.


The measurement of mRNA serves as a higher reliable indicator for the evaluation of CYP induction potential when using HepaRG cells.


CYP induction; HepaRG cells; PXR-knockout HepaRG cells; QuantiGene Plex 2.0 assay; drug–drug interaction; hepatocytes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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