06/13/2023 - Role of transporters in drug toxicity

A Unique In Vitro Assay to Investigate ABCB4 Transport Function

Csilla Temesszentandrási-Ambrus 1 2, Gábor Nagy 1, Annamária Bui 1, Zsuzsanna Gáborik 1

Affiliations expand

PMID: 36901890


ABCB4 is almost exclusively expressed in the liver, where it plays an essential role in bile formation by transporting phospholipids into the bile. ABCB4 polymorphisms and deficiencies in humans are associated with a wide spectrum of hepatobiliary disorders, attesting to its crucial physiological function. Inhibition of ABCB4 by drugs may lead to cholestasis and drug-induced liver injury (DILI), although compared with other drug transporters, there are only a few identified substrates and inhibitors of ABCB4. Since ABCB4 shares up to 76% identity and 86% similarity in the amino acid sequence with ABCB1, also known to have common drug substrates and inhibitors, we aimed to develop an ABCB4 expressing Abcb1-knockout MDCKII cell line for transcellular transport assays. This in vitro system allows the screening of ABCB4-specific drug substrates and inhibitors independently of ABCB1 activity. Abcb1KO-MDCKII-ABCB4 cells constitute a reproducible, conclusive, and easy to use assay to study drug interactions with digoxin as a substrate. Screening a set of drugs with different DILI outcomes proved that this assay is applicable to test ABCB4 inhibitory potency. Our results are consistent with prior findings concerning hepatotoxicity causality and provide new insights for identifying drugs as potential ABCB4 inhibitors and substrates.

Keywords: ABCB4 inhibitors; MDR3; drug-induced liver injury; hepatotoxicity.

Conflict of interest statement

SOLVO Biotechnology, Charles River Laboratories Hungary, the employer of the authors, develops and commercializes reagents and assays to study membrane transporters. The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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