Monday, 11 April 2016 22:45

In vitro liver cell models to study drug-induced liver injury Featured

A researcher group headed by Dr. Georg Damm from the Clinic of General, Visceral and Transplantation Surgery, Charité Berlin developes immunocompetent liver cell models that make it possible to examine fatty acid- and drug-induced liver damages.

Some pharmaceuticals can cause liver damage. Scientists differ between intrinsic (due to the material properties of the drug, depending on the dose) and idiosyncratic (multifactorial causes involving immune cells, genetic factors or lifestyle, age and co-medication) drug-induced liver injuries.

Due to the complexity of the idiosyncratic development, animal experiments in preclinical toxicological studies are not able to reflect these causes. In addition, during the development of a liver damage immune cells are involved. Therefore the current measurement of reactive metabolites or e.g. the cytotoxicity after drug exposure is not enough to sufficiently describe the hepatotoxic effects of a pharmaceutical.

Therefore the research group of Dr. Georg Damm employs concentrates i.a. on cultivating of primary human hepatocytes in modern 3D culture systems in co-culture with immune cells of the liver (Kupffer cells and hepatic stellate cells) as an alternative to animal experiments. Using the models the team is able to investigate fatty acid- and drug-induced damage to human liver cells after drug exposure more precisely. In contrast to cell lines, the cells have the nessessary metabolic characteristics and they genetically stable.

The working group explores further the ability of liver cells to regenerate and the pharmacology and toxicology of various herbal medicines and xenobiotics.