The nonclinical safety package to support development and approval of drugs intended to be administered by topical application generally follows International Council for Harmonisation multidisciplinary 3 (ICH M3) and topic specific safety (ICH S) guidances. However, some aspects of topical drug development may require case-by-case determination of nonclinical safety strategies. The necessity to conduct a dermal rodent carcinogenicity study is one such example that is not considered an obligate component of a nonclinical safety data package for drug approval. While absence of systemic exposure, as stated in ICH M3, is a primary reason to forego a dermal carcinogenicity assessment, there may also be other factors for consideration in determining the need for a life-time carcinogencity study by dermal route to aid in the overall human cancer risk assessment. We therefore reviewed nonclinical carcinogencity data packages from drugs approved by the FDA or PMDA over a ~25 year time period to evaluate outcomes of oral versus topical carcinogencity studies and to understand their utility for informing the overall human risk assessment. We also discuss various other properties of topical small molecules that could impact the decisions to conduct a dermal life-time rodent carcinogenicity study. Collectively, the need to conduct 2-year dermal carcinogenicity studies in rodents should be determined case-by-case and consider scientific factors such existing systemic toxicity and carcinogenicity study data, anticipated drug exposures in skin, skin evaluation from the chronic minipig toxicity study, and genetic toxicity profile.
The liver microphysiological system (MPS) model is an in-vitro culture method that mimics physiological blood flow, which enhances basal cellular functions. However, the liver MPS model has not been tested in the preclinical stage because of its obscure utility. It can overcome the major problem of conventional systems—rapid loss of mitochondrial activity in cultured hepatocytes due to limited oxygen supply—by supplying oxygen to cultured hepatocytes using a perfusion device. In this study, we developed a new perfusion culture system that can detect mitochondrial toxicity. Primary mouse hepatocytes were cultured under perfusion condition for 48 hr. The hepatocytes showed increased oxygen consumption and reduced lactate release. These results indicated that the ATP-production pathway was switched from glycolysis to mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in the perfusion culture system. Furthermore, ATP levels were considerably reduced in the perfusion culture system after exposure to phenformin, a mitochondrial complex I inhibitor. To summarize, the perfusion culture system could improve the mitochondrial activity in primary mouse hepatocytes, and thus, has potential implications in the detection of mitochondrial toxicity.
Acyl-CoAdiacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) is a key enzyme in the fat absorption step in enterocytes. We previously reported that the pharmacological inhibition of DGAT1 increased plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) activity in corn oil-loaded rats without any sign of hepatotoxicity. In this study, we investigated this mechanism. We found that this elevation occurred only during the pharmacologically active period of a DGAT1 inhibitor and the magnitude did not depend on the volume of corn oil. In addition, this elevation was not accompanied by increases in ALT or AST mRNA levels in the small intestine and liver. To clarify a lipid component responsible for this elevation, rats were treated with free fatty acids instead of corn oil and no plasma ALT elevation was observed. Next, rats were pretreated with inhibitors of monoacylglycerol acyltransferase 2 and intestinal microsomal triglyceride transfer protein instead of the DGAT1 inhibitor, but no plasma ALT elevation was observed after corn oil loading. Since the results suggested a possible role of diacylglycerol (DAG), which activates protein kinase C (PKC), we measured PKC activity in the small intestine and found that the activity was increased by treatment with the DGAT1 inhibitor and corn oil. Moreover, rats pretreated with a PKC inhibitor in combination with the DGAT1 inhibitor showed suppression of plasma ALT elevation. Taken together, the present results suggest that DAG accumulation induced by pharmacological DGAT1 inhibition and resultant PKC activation in enterocytes are involved in the increase in plasma ALT and AST activity in rats.
Brain susceptibility to methylmercury (MeHg) is developmentally and regionally specific in both humans and rodents, but the mechanism is not well clarified. Reactive sulfur species (RSS) with high nucleophilicity can react with MeHg, leading to the formation of a less toxic metabolite bismethylmercury sulfide, thus exerting cytoprotection. In this study, we assessed the variation of RSS content in the rat brain and evaluated its relevance in sensitivity to MeHg. Analyses of fetal/juvenile rat brains showed low RSS levels in early developmental stages. Site-specific analysis of adult rat brains revealed that cerebellar RSS levels were lower than those of the hippocampus. Microscopically, RSS levels of the granular cell layer were lower than those of the molecular layer in the cerebellum. Thus, low RSS levels corresponded with age and site of the brain that is vulnerable to MeHg. Taken together with the finding that brain RSS were consumed during MeHg exposure, these results indicate that RSS is a factor that defines the specificity of MeHg vulnerability in the brain.
We reported the enhanced liver-specific function and structure of HepG2 cells by the oxygenation culture via a collagen vitrigel membrane (CVM). The cells were conditioned in our laboratory for a long period, so their characteristics may change from the original HepG2 cells registered in RIKEN cell bank (RCB) with the number of 1648 (HepG2-RCB1648 cells). We named the conditioned HepG2-RCB1648 cells in our laboratory as HepG2-NIAS cells. Here, we clarified the features of HepG2 cells with three different culture histories by analyzing their morphology and viability, CYP3A4 activity, the potential to form bile canaliculus-like structures, and the expression of drug transporters. On plastic, HepG2-NIAS cells grew as a monolayer without the formation of large aggregates involving dead cells that were observed in HepG2-RCB1648 cells and HepG2-RCB1886 cells. In the oxygenation culture via a CVM, the CYP3A4 activity of HepG2-NIAS cells increased to almost half level in direct comparison to that of differentiated HepaRG cells cultured on a collagen-coated plate; however, that of HepG2-RCB1648 cells and HepG2-RCB1886 cells was almost not detected. HepG2-NIAS cells formed bile canaliculus-like networks in which fluorescein was accumulated after the exposure of fluorescein diacetate, although HepG2-RCB1648 cells and HepG2-RCB1886 cells did not possess the potential. Also, immunohistological observations revealed that HepG2-NIAS cells remarkably enhanced the expression of drug transporters, NTCP, OATP1B1, OATP1B3, BSEP, MDR1, MRP2, and BCRP. These results suggest that HepG2-NIAS cells are a new subline of HepG2 cells useful for drug development studies. HepG2-NIAS cells were registered in RCB with the number of 4679.