Toxicity and intracellular accumulation of bile acids in sandwich-cultured rat hepatocytes: Role of glycine conjugates

Excessive intrahepatic accumulation of bile acids (BAs) is a key mechanism underlying cholestasis. The aim of this study was to quantitatively explore the relationship between cytotoxicity of BAs and their intracellular accumulation in sandwich-cultured rat hepatocytes (SCRH). Following exposure of SCRH (on day-1 after seeding) to various BAs for 24h, glycine-conjugated BAs were most potent in exerting toxicity. Moreover, unconjugated BAs showed significantly higher toxicity in day-1 compared to day-3 SCRH. When day-1/-3 SCRH were exposed (0.5-4h) to 5-100μM (C)DCA, intracellular levels of unconjugated (C)DCA were similar, while intracellular levels of glycine conjugates were up to 4-fold lower in day-3 compared to day-1 SCRH. Sinusoidal efflux was by far the predominant efflux pathway of conjugated BAs both in day-1 and day-3 SCRH, while canalicular BA efflux showed substantial interbatch variability. After 4h exposure to (C)DCA, intracellular glycine conjugate levels were at least 10-fold higher than taurine conjugate levels. Taken together, reduced BA conjugate formation in day-3 SCRH results in lower intracellular glycine conjugate concentrations, explaining decreased toxicity of (C)DCA in day-3 versus day-1 SCRH. Our data provide for the first time a direct link between BA toxicity and glycine conjugate exposure in SCRH.

S. Chatterjee, I.T. Bijsmans, S.W. van Mil, P. Augustijns, P. Annaert
2014; 28 (2): 218-230
Published in: 
Toxicology in Vitro
Date of publication: 
March, 2014
Status of the publication: