Functional expression and regulation of drug transporters in monolayer- and sandwich-cultured mouse hepatocytes

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Graphical abstractPrimary hepatocyte cultures are now considered as convenient models for in vitro analyzing liver drug transport. However, if primary human and rat hepatocytes have been well-characterized with respect to drug transporter expression and regulation, much less is known for primary mouse hepatocytes. The present study was therefore designed to gain insights about this point. The profile of sinusoidal and canalicular drug transporter mRNA expression in short time (4 h)-cultured mouse hepatocytes was found to be highly correlated with that of freshly isolated hepatocytes; by contrast, those of counterparts cultured for a longer time (until 4 days) either in monolayer configurations on plastic or collagen or in sandwich configuration with matrigel were profoundly altered: uptake drug transporters such as Oct1, Oatps and Oat2 were thus down-regulated, whereas most of efflux transporters such as Mdr1a/b, Mrp3, Mrp4 and Bcrp were induced. Moreover, short time-cultured hepatocytes exhibited the highest levels of sinusoidal influx transporter activities. Transporter-mediated drug secretion into canalicular networks was however only observed in sandwich-cultured hepatocytes. Mouse hepatocytes cultured either in monolayer or sandwich configurations were finally shown to exhibit up-regulation of referent transporters in response to exposure to prototypical activators of the drug sensing receptors pregnane X receptor, aryl hydrocarbon receptor or constitutive androstane receptor. Taken together, these data demonstrate the feasibility of using primary mouse hepatocytes for investigating potential interactions of xenobiotics with hepatic transporter activity or regulation, provided that adequate culture conditions are retained.

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