The liver is the most important target for toxicity caused by drugs. This vulnerability is a consequence of the functional features of the liver and their role in the metabolic elimination of most drugs. Therefore, evaluation of potential hepatotoxicity represents a critical step in the development of new drugs. The liver is very active in metabolising foreign compounds and, although biotransformation reactions generally parallel detoxification processes, the formation of reactive metabolites is relatively frequent. Thus, drug-induced hepatotoxicity can be due to the administered compound itself or to metabolites formed by hepatic metabolism. The most important systems to study hepatotoxicity and metabolic activity in vitro are liver slices, isolated liver cells in suspensions or in primary cultures including co-culture methods and special 3D techniques, various subcellular fractions and hepatic cell lines. These models can be used for cytotoxicity and genotoxicity screening, and also to identify the mechanisms involved in drug-induced hepatotoxicity. Assessment of current cytotoxicity and hepatic-specific biochemical effects are limited by the inability to measure a wide spectrum of potential mechanistic changes involved in the drug-induced toxic injury. A convenient selection of end-points allows a multiparametric evaluation of drug toxicity. In this regard, omic (cytomic, metabonomic, proteomic and toxicogemic) approaches help defining patterns of hepatotoxicity for early identification of potential adverse effects of the drug to the liver. The development of robust in vitro-based multiparametric screening assays covering a wider spectrum of key effects will heighten the predictive capacity for human hepatotoxicity, and accelerate the drug development process.
Keywords: Hepatocytes, hepatotoxicity, hepatotoxins, metabonomics, toxicogenomics, proteomics, cytomics, cytochrome P450
Rights & PermissionsPrintExport