Metabolomics-on-a-Chip of Hepatotoxicity Induced by Anticancer Drug Flutamide and Its Active Metabolite Hydroxyflutamide Using HepG2/C3a Microfluidic Biochips

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We used the recently introduced “metabolomics-on-a-chip” approach to test secondary drug toxicity in bioartificial organs. Bioartificial organs cultivated in microfluidic culture conditions provide a beneficial environment, in which the cellular cytoprotective mechanisms are enhanced, compared with Petri dish culture conditions. We investigated the metabolic response of HepG2/C3a cells exposed to flutamide, an anticancer prodrug, and hydroxyflutamide (HF), its active metabolite, in a microfluidic biochip. The cellular response was analyzed by 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to identify cell-specific molecule-response markers. The metabolic response to flutamide results in a disruption of glucose homeostasis and in mitochondrial dysfunctions. This flutamide-specific metabolic response was illustrated by a reduction of the extracellular glucose and fructose consumptions and a general reduction of the tricarboxylic acid cycle activity leading to the reduction of the consumption of several amino acids. We also found a higher production of 3-hydroxybutyrate and lactate, and the reduction of the albumin production compared with controls. The toxic metabolic signature associated with the active metabolite HF was illustrated by a high-energy demand and an increase in several amino acid metabolism. Finally, for both molecules, the hepatotoxicity was correlated to the glutathione (GSH) metabolism illustrated by the levels of the 2-hydroxybutyrate and pyroglutamate productions and the increase of the glutamate and glycine productions. Thus, the entire set of results contributed to extract specific mechanistic toxic signatures and their relation to hepatotoxicity, which appeared consistent with literature reports. As new finding of HepG2/C3a cells hepatotoxicity, we propose a metabolic network with a related list of metabolite variations to describe the GSH depletion when followed by a cell death for the HepG2/C3a cells cultivated in our polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic biochips. Our findings illustrate the potential of metabolomics-on-a-chip as an in vitro alternative method for predictive toxicology.

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