A wide range of in vitro models are used in preclinical drug testing for the investigation of ADME-Tox (Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, Excretion and oxicity) properties of New Chemical Entities (NCEs). The liver is the main organ with regards to ADME-Tox, it’s the place of more than 500 different functions, including: metabolism of lipids, carbohydrates, and vitamins, detoxification, production of bile, albumin, fibrinogen, globulin, etc (1). The liver lobule is composed of parenchymal cells (hepatocytes) and nonparenchymal cells (Kupffer cells, hepatic stellate cells, and sinusoidal endothelial cells).
Hepatocytes – the Gold Standard
Hepatocytes represent 80% of liver volume. Hepatocytes are commonly used in drug discovery and preclinical drug development to perform experiments requiring intact cellular systems. Intact hepatocytes contain the major hepatic drug-metabolizing enzymes required to study the four categories of xenobiotic biotransformation: hydrolysis, reduction, oxidation and conjugation.
Because of these enzymes, hepatocytes provide a viable and cost-effective alternative to in vivo testing.