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Toxicol Sci. 2018 Aug 1;164(2):477-488. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfy101.

Effect of the Catechol-O-Methyltransferase Inhibitors Tolcapone and Entacapone on Fatty Acid Metabolism in HepaRG Cells.

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Division of Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology, University Hospital Basel, 4031 Basel, Switzerland.
Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel, 4031 Basel, Switzerland.
Swiss Center for Applied Human Toxicology (SCAHT), 4055 Basel, Switzerland.


Tolcapone and entacapone are catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors used in patients with Parkinson's disease. For tolcapone, patients with liver failure have been reported with microvesicular steatosis observed in the liver biopsy of 1 patient. We therefore investigated the impact of tolcapone and entacapone on fatty acid metabolism in HepaRG cells exposed for 24 h and on acutely exposed mouse liver mitochondria. In HepaRG cells, tolcapone induced lipid accumulation starting at 100 µM, whereas entacapone was ineffective up to 200 µM. In HepaRG cells, tolcapone-inhibited palmitate metabolism and activation starting at 100 µM, whereas entacapone did not affect palmitate metabolism. In isolated mouse liver mitochondria, tolcapone inhibited palmitate metabolism starting at 5 µM and entacapone at 50 µM. Inhibition of palmitate activation could be confirmed by the acylcarnitine pattern in the supernatant of HepaRG cell cultures. Tolcapone-reduced mRNA and protein expression of long-chain acyl-CoA synthetase 1 (ACSL1) and protein expression of ACSL5, whereas entacapone did not affect ACSL expression. Tolcapone increased mRNA expression of the fatty acid transporter CD36/FAT, impaired the secretion of ApoB100 by HepaRG cells and reduced the mRNA expression of ApoB100, but did not relevantly affect markers of fatty acid binding, lipid droplet formation and microsomal lipid transfer. In conclusion, tolcapone impaired hepatocellular fatty acid metabolism at lower concentrations than entacapone. Tolcapone increased mRNA expression of fatty acid transporters, inhibited activation of long-chain fatty acids and impaired very low-density lipoprotein secretion, causing hepatocellular triglyceride accumulation. The findings may be relevant in patients with a high tolcapone exposure and preexisting mitochondrial dysfunction.


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