Quantitative Systems Toxicology Modeling Predicts that Reduced Biliary Efflux Contributes to Tolvaptan Hepatotoxicity

Publication: Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Software: DILIsym®
Division: DILIsym Services


Patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) exhibit enhanced susceptibility to tolvaptan hepatotoxicity relative to other patient populations. In a rodent model of ADPKD, the expression and function of the biliary efflux transporter Mrp2 was reduced, and biliary excretion of a major tolvaptan metabolite (DM-4103) was decreased. The current study investigated whether reduced biliary efflux could contribute to increased susceptibility to tolvaptan-associated hepatotoxicity using a quantitative systems toxicology (QST) model (DILIsym). QST simulations revealed that decreased biliary excretion of DM-4103, but not tolvaptan, resulted in substantial hepatic accumulation of bile acids, decreased electron transport chain activity, reduced hepatic adenosine triphosphate concentrations, and an increased incidence of hepatotoxicity. In vitro experiments (C-DILI) with sandwich-cultured human hepatocytes and HepaRG cells were performed to assess tolvaptan-associated hepatotoxic effects when MRP2 was impaired by chemical inhibition (MK571, 50 µM) or genetic knockout, respectively. Tolvaptan (64 µM, 24-hour) treatment of these cells increased cytotoxicity markers up to 27.9-fold and 1.6-fold, respectively, when MRP2 was impaired, indicating that MRP2 dysfunction may be involved in tolvaptan-associated cytotoxicity. In conclusion, QST modeling supported the hypothesis that reduced biliary efflux of tolvaptan and/or DM-4103 could account for increased susceptibility to tolvaptan-associated hepatotoxicity; in vitro experiments implicated MRP2 dysfunction as a key factor in susceptibility. QST simulations revealed that DM-4103 may contribute to hepatotoxicity more than the parent compound. ADPKD progression and gradual reduction in MRP2 activity may explain why acute liver events can occur well after one year of tolvaptan treatment.

By James J. Beaudoin, William J. Brock, Paul B. Watkins, Kim L. R. Brouwer