Mitochondrial bioenergetics and drug-induced toxicity in a panel of mouse embryonic fibroblasts with mitochondrial DNA single nucleotide polymorphisms

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Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variations including single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been proposed to be involved in idiosyncratic drug reactions. However, current in vitro and in vivo models lack the genetic diversity seen in the human population. Our hypothesis is that different cell strains with distinct mtDNA SNPs may have different mitochondrial bioenergetic profiles and may therefore vary in their response to drug-induced toxicity. Therefore, we used an in vitro system composed of four strains of mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) with mtDNA polymorphisms. We sequenced mtDNA from embryonic fibroblasts isolated from four mouse strains, C57BL/6J, MOLF/EiJ, CZECHII/EiJ and PERA/EiJ, with the latter two being sequenced for the first time. The bioenergetic profile of the four strains of MEFs was investigated at both passages 3 and 10. Our results showed that there were clear differences among the four strains of MEFs at both passages, with CZECHII/EiJ having a lower mitochondrial robustness when compared to C57BL/6J, followed by MOLF/EiJ and PERA/EiJ. Seven drugs known to impair mitochondrial function were tested for their effect on the ATP content of the four strains of MEFs in both glucose- and galactose-containing media. Our results showed that there were strain-dependent differences in the response to some of the drugs. We propose that this model is a useful starting point to study compounds that may cause mitochondrial off-target toxicity in early stages of drug development, thus decreasing the number of experimental animals used.

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