RNA-protein correlation of liver toxicity markers in HepaRG cells
Keywords:liver toxicity, in vitro testing, hepatocytes, relative potency factors, omics
The liver is a main target organ for the toxicity of many different compounds. While in general, in vivo testing is still routinely used for assessing the hepatotoxic potential of test chemicals, the use of in vitro models offers advantages with regard to throughput, consumption of resources, and animal welfare aspects. Using the human hepatoma cell line HepaRG, we performed a comparative evaluation of a panel of hepatotoxicity marker mRNAs and proteins after exposure of the cells to 30 different pesticidal active compounds comprising herbizides, fungicides, insecticides, and others. The panel of hepatotoxicity markers included nuclear receptor target genes, key players of fatty acid and bile acid metabolism-related pathways, as well as recently identified biomarkers of drug-induced liver injury. Moreover, marker genes and proteins were identified, for example, S100P, ANXA10, CYP1A1, and CYP7A1. These markers respond with high sensitivity to stimulation with chemically diverse test compounds already at non-cytotoxic concentrations. The potency of the test compounds, determined as an overall parameter of their ability to deregulate marker expression in vitro, was very similar between the mRNA and protein levels. Thus, this study does not only characterize the response of human liver cells to 30 different pesticides but also demonstrates that hepatotoxicity testing in human HepaRG cells yields well comparable results at the mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, robust hepatotoxicity marker genes and proteins were identified in HepaRG cells.
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