Investigating bile acid-mediated cholestatic drug-induced liver injury using a mechanistic model of multidrug resistance protein 3 (MDR3) inhibition

Publication: Frontiers in Pharmacology
Software: DILIsym®
Division: Simulations Plus


Inhibition of the canalicular phospholipid floppase multidrug resistance protein 3 (MDR3) has been implicated in cholestatic drug-induced liver injury (DILI), which is clinically characterized by disrupted bile flow and damage to the biliary epithelium. Reduction in phospholipid excretion, as a consequence of MDR3 inhibition, decreases the formation of mixed micelles consisting of bile acids and phospholipids in the bile duct, resulting in a surplus of free bile acids that can damage the bile duct epithelial cells, i.e., cholangiocytes. Cholangiocytes may compensate for biliary increases in bile acid monomers via the cholehepatic shunt pathway or bicarbonate secretion, thereby influencing viability or progression to toxicity. To address the unmet need to predict drug-induced bile duct injury in humans, DILIsym, a quantitative systems toxicology model of DILI, was extended by representing key features of the bile duct, cholangiocyte functionality, bile acid and phospholipid disposition, and cholestatic hepatotoxicity. A virtual, healthy representative subject and population (n = 285) were calibrated and validated utilizing a variety of clinical data. Sensitivity analyses were performed for 1) the cholehepatic shunt pathway, 2) biliary bicarbonate concentrations and 3) modes of MDR3 inhibition. Simulations showed that an increase in shunting may decrease the biliary bile acid burden, but raise the hepatocellular concentrations of bile acids. Elevating the biliary concentration of bicarbonate may decrease bile acid shunting, but increase bile flow rate. In contrast to competitive inhibition, simulations demonstrated that non-competitive and mixed inhibition of MDR3 had a profound impact on phospholipid efflux, elevations in the biliary bile acid-to-phospholipid ratio, cholangiocyte toxicity, and adaptation pathways. The model with its extended bile acid homeostasis representation was furthermore able to predict DILI liability for compounds with previously studied interactions with bile acid transport. The cholestatic liver injury submodel in DILIsym accounts for several processes pertinent to bile duct viability and toxicity and hence, is useful for predictions of MDR3 inhibition-mediated cholestatic DILI in humans.

By James J. Beaudoin, Kyunghee Yang, Jeffry Adiwidjaja, Guncha Taneja, Paul B. Watkins, Scott Q. Siler, Brett A. Howell & Jeffrey L. Woodhead