Biomarkers are invaluable drug development tools to assess and monitor safety in early clinical trials especially when exposure margins are limiting for promising therapeutics. Although progress has been made towards identifying and implementing translational safety biomarkers for a number of organ toxicities such as kidney and liver, significant biomarker gaps still exist to monitor toxicities for testis, pancreas, etc. Several precompetitive consortia [e.g., Predictive Safety Testing Consortia (PSTC), Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)] are working with industry, academia, government, patient advocacy groups and foundations with a goal to qualify biomarkers such that they can be used in preclinical studies and clinical trials to accelerate drug development. This manuscript discusses the complexities of novel biomarker discovery, validation and international regulatory qualifications intended for clinical trial applications and shares specific examples from Pfizer Research and Development. As safety biomarkers become widely accepted and qualified by the regulatory agencies, they will increasingly be implemented in early clinical trials, play a key role in decision making and facilitate the progression of promising therapeutics from preclinical through clinical development.
Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is widely used in polyvinylchloride-based materials and remains intact in the environment. Lungs are one route of entry of DEHP into the body; however, there is limited information on the effects and mechanism of action of DEHP on non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Here, we addressed this by examining the effect of DEHP on the proliferation of A549 human lung adenocarcinoma cells by MTS assay. The induction of inflammation and epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), as well as activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and Wnt/β-catenin signaling pathways, were assessed by western blot and real-time polymerase chain reaction. Although there were discrepancies in the concentration, DEHP treatment enhanced A549 cell viability accompanied by increased mRNA and protein levels of inflammation-related factors, such as matrix metalloproteinase-9 and nuclear factor-κB. Additionally, EMT was activated in cells according to decreased E-cadherin and increased vimentin expression. Furthermore, MAPK pathway components, including phosphorylated p38 and c-Jun N-terminal kinase, and Wnt/β-catenin pathway components, including phosphorylated glycogen synthase kinase 3β and β-catenin, as well as their downstream genes c-Myc and cyclin D1, were upregulated in the presence of DEHP. These results suggest that DEHP promotes NSCLC progression by promoting cell proliferation, inflammation, and EMT via activation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling.
Phthalate esters (PEs) are widely used as plasticizers in various kinds of plastic products. Some PEs have been known to induce developmental and reproductive toxicity (DART) as well as hepatotoxicity in laboratory animals. In some cases of DART, the strength of toxicity of PEs depends on the side chain lengths, while the relationship between hepatotoxicity and side chain length is unknown. Therefore, in this study, we compared DART and hepatotoxicity in rats, focusing on 6 PEs with different side chains. We collected toxicity data of 6 PEs, namely, n-butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP), di-isononyl phthalate (DINP), and di-n-octyl phthalate (DNOP), from open data source, then, we constructed the toxicity database to comprehensively and efficiently compare the toxicity effects. When we compared DART using the toxicity database, we found that BBP, DBP, and DEHP with short side chains showed strong toxicities against the reproductive organs of male offspring, and the No-Observed-Adverse-Effect Levels (NOAELs) of BBP, DBP, and DEHP were lower than DIDP, DINP, and DNOP with long side chains. Comparing hepatotoxicities, the lowest NOAEL was shown 14 mg/kg/day for DEHP, based on liver weight gain with histopathological changes. However, as BBP and DBP showed higher NOAEL than the other 3 PEs (DIDP, DINP, and DNOP), we conclude that hepatotoxicity does not depend on the length of side chain. Concerning side chain length of PEs, we effectively utilized our constructed database and found that DART and hepatotoxicity in rats showed different modes of toxicities.
Vitamin A and its derivatives contribute to many physiological processes, including vision, neural differentiation, and reproduction. Vitamin A deficiency causes early cessation of spermatogenesis, characterized by a marked depletion of germ cells. However, there has been no clear understanding about the role of chronic intake of vitamin A excess (VAE) in spermatogenesis. The objective of this study was to investigate whether chronic intake of VAE diet causes arrest of spermatogenesis. To examine the effects of VAE on spermatogenesis, we used ICR male mice fed with control (AIN-93G purified diet: 4 IU/g) diet or VAE (modified AIN-93G diet with VAE: 1,000 IU/g) diet for 7 weeks (from 3 to 10 weeks of age). At 10 weeks of age, the retinol concentration in the testes of VAE mice was significantly higher than that of control mice. Testicular cross sections from control mice contained a normal array of germ cells, while the seminiferous tubules from VAE mice exhibited varying degrees of testicular degeneration. Daily sperm production in VAE testes was dramatically decreased compared to that in control testes. Sperm viability, motility, and morphology were also impaired in VAE mice. Furthermore, we examined the effects of VAE on the expression of genes involved in retinoid signaling and spermatogenesis to determine the underlying molecular mechanisms. Therefore, we are the first to present results describing the long-term dietary intake of VAE impairs spermatogenesis using a mouse model.
Previously, we reported that the frequency of micronucleated reticulocytes (MNRETs) in the peripheral blood of male C3H/He mice intraperitoneally administered ethylnitrosourea (ENU) (25 mg/kg body weight) in the dark period (zeitgeber time, ZT15) was higher than in the light period (ZT3). In this study, to clarify the mechanism underlying this phenomenon, we investigated the differences in micronucleus (MN) induction observed between ZT3 and ZT15 using five chemicals, methylnitrosourea (MNU), ethylmethane sulfonate (EMS), mitomycin C, cyclophosphamide and vincristin. MNU and EMS, monofunctional alkylating agents, showed higher frequencies of MNRETs in the ZT15 than the ZT3 treatment similar to ENU. However, no differences were observed for the other chemicals. In the comet assay, more DNA damage was induced by ENU in the ZT15 than the ZT3 treatment. Furthermore, the plasma erythropoietin (EPO) level, a known effector of MN induction with anti-apoptotic activity mediated by Bcl-xL expression, was higher in the dark than in the light period. EPO did not increase the frequency of MNRETs. However, in the ENU treatment group at ZT3 following EPO injection a significant increase of MNRETs was observed similar to the ZT15 treatment. Higher expression of apoptosis-related genes such as Bcl-xL was induced in bone marrow cells from mice treated with ENU at ZT15 compared with ZT3. From these results, it was speculated that the differences in MN induction in the peripheral blood of mice exposed to monofunctional alkylating agents such as ENU depend on apoptotic or anti-apoptotic conditions related to the circadian rhythms of EPO in bone marrow.
We previously developed a test for detecting naturally occurring protein-induced skin sensitization based on the markers and criteria of the human cell-line activation test (h-CLAT) and showed that the h-CLAT was useful for assessing the allergenic potency of proteins. However, test proteins were contaminated with varying amounts of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), which might have contributed to the stimulation of CD86 and CD54 expression. In this study, we developed a method to exclude the effects of LPS in the assessment of skin sensitization by naturally occurring proteins. We tested two inhibitors [the caspase-1 inhibitor acetyl-Tyr-Val-Ala-Asp-chloromethylketone (Ac-YVAD-cmk; hereafter referred to as YVAD), which can mitigate the LPS-induced increases in CD54 expression, and polymyxin B (PMB), which suppresses the effect of LPS by binding to its lipid moiety (i.e., the toxic component of LPS)]. After a 24 hr exposure, YVAD and PMB reduced LPS-induced CD86 and CD54 expression. In particular, the effect of PMB was dependent upon pre-incubation time and temperature, with the most potent effect observed following pre-incubation at 37°C for 24 hr. Moreover, only pre-incubation with cell-culture medium (CCM) at 37°C for 24 hr showed an inhibitory effect similar to that of PMB, with this result possibly caused by components of CCM binding to LPS. Similar effects were observed in the presence of ovalbumin (with 1070 EU/mg LPS) and ovomucoid, and lysozyme (with 2.82 and 0.234 EU/mg LPS, respectively) in CCM. These results indicated that PMB and CCM effectively eliminated the effects of LPS during assessment of protein allergenicity, thereby allowing a more accurate evaluation of the potential of proteins to induce skin sensitization.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) leads to serious infections, but it is not known whether it changes the expression of kidney drug metabolizing enzymes during infection. The mice were infected with different doses of MRSA and the oxidative stress and inflammation levels in the kidney were examined. The mRNA expression and activity of cytochrome P450 enzyme was analysed. Mice infected with high levels of MRSA showed a decrease in renal antioxidant capability and an elevated level of oxidative metabolites, which was accompanied by the release of inflammatory cytokines. The levels of interleukin 1β, tumour necrosis factor alpha, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1α were significantly increased along with the levels of nitric oxide and malondialdehyde. On day 7, mRNA expression of Cyp1a2, 2d22, and 3a11 were decreased by the high level of MRSA, but the low level of MRSA increased their expressions. Cyp2e1 mRNA expression was increased by MRSA in the kidney of mice. High dose of MRSA infection increased the oxidative stress and inflammatory response in mouse kidney, leading to the decrease in the expression of renal drug-metabolizing enzymes and no recovery within 7 days.
Cadmium, a ubiquitous heavy metal, is a toxic industrial and environmental pollutant. The initial biological response to cadmium exposure is induction of metallothioneins (MTs), a family of cysteine-rich, low-molecular-weight proteins that bind primarily zinc, cadmium, or both. This MT induction protects against cadmium toxicity by quenching cadmium. However, the effects of long-term cadmium exposure on MT1 gene expression are largely unknown. To investigate these effects, we used P1798 mouse lymphosarcoma cells, in which the MT1 gene is suppressed. As previously reported, MT1 expression remained unchanged after cadmium treatment. However, MT1 induction was observed in cells treated with 0.1 µM cadmium for 7 days, then exposed to 10 µM cadmium for 3 hr. In cells treated with 0.1 µM cadmium for 7 days, the transfected MT1 promoter reporter gene transcription and the cadmium incorporation in response to 10 µM cadmium induction were similar to those in untreated P1798 cells. Bisulfite genomic sequencing revealed that 7 day treatment with 0.1 µM cadmium slightly decreased CpG methylation in the 5´ flanking region of the MT1 gene. Our results together show that cadmium treatment results in MT1 induction and epigenetic modification of the MT1 gene.