Improved in vitro toxicity tests are currently required, mainly due to the new European Chemicals Legislation (REACH). As a result, hepatocytes as test models are highly relevant because most xenobiotics are either metabolically activated or detoxified in the liver. However, the cultivation of isolated hepatocytes in vitro is difficult. Depending on culture conditions they may dedifferentiate and massively alter their functions compared to the in vivo situation. Recently, we have identified several factors involved in early signalling which are responsible for the observed in vivo/in vitro discrepancies (Godoy et al., 2009). We have also established techniques to manipulate signalling network constellations in order to guarantee in vivo like functions of cultivated hepatocytes. After introducing these improvements, hepatocyte in vitro systems can also be applied to -omics studies in which toxic substances are classified by gene or protein expression patterns with respect to their molecular mechanisms of action.
Novel systems of neurotoxicity testing
Together with the research groups of Christoph van Thriel (IfADo) and Jonathan West (ISAS), we have established screening techniques for neurotoxic compounds inhibiting the formation of neurite connections (funded by the EC project ESNATS). A long term goal of this project is to integrate the above described in vitrosystems with hepatocytes into the neurite connection assay in order to achieve neurotoxicity testing with and without hepatic metabolism.
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Cañete A, Comaills V, Prados I, Castro AM, Hammad S, Ybot-Gonzalez P, Bockamp E, Hengstler JG, Gottgens B, Sánchez MJ. Characterization of a Fetal Liver Cell Population Endowed with Long-Term Multiorgan Endothelial Reconstitution Potential. Stem Cells. 2016 Sep 12.
Deharde D, Schneider C, Hiller T, Fischer N, Kegel V, Lübberstedt M, Freyer N, Hengstler JG, Andersson TB, Seehofer D, Pratschke J, Zeilinger K, Damm G. Bile canaliculi formation and biliary transport in 3D sandwich-cultured hepatocytes in dependence of the extracellular matrix composition. Arch Toxicol. 2016 Oct;90(10):2497-511.
Godoy P, Widera A, Schmidt-Heck W, Campos G, Meyer C, Cadenas C, Reif R, Stöber R, Hammad S, Pütter L, Gianmoena K, Marchan R, Ghallab A, Edlund K, Nüssler A, Thasler WE, Damm G, Seehofer D, Weiss TS, Dirsch O, Dahmen U, Gebhardt R, Chaudhari U, Meganathan K, Sachinidis A, Kelm J, Hofmann U, Zahedi RP, Guthke R, Blüthgen N, Dooley S, Hengstler JG. Gene network activity in cultivated primary hepatocytes is highly similar to diseased mammalian liver tissue. Arch Toxicol. 2016 Oct;90(10):2513-29.
Godoy P, Schmidt-Heck W, Natarajan K, Lucendo-Villarin B, Szkolnicka D, Asplund A, Björquist P, Widera A, Stöber R, Campos G, Hammad S, Sachinidis A, Chaudhari U, Damm G, Weiss TS, Nüssler A, Synnergren J, Edlund K, Küppers-Munther B, Hay DC, Hengstler JG. Gene networks and transcription factor motifs defining the differentiation of stem cells into hepatocyte-like cells. J Hepatol. 2015 Oct;63(4):934-42.
Frey O, Misun PM, Fluri DA, Hengstler JG, Hierlemann A. Reconfigurable microfluidic hanging drop network for multi-tissue interaction and analysis. Nat Commun. 2014 Jun 30;5:4250.
Grinberg M, Stöber RM, Edlund K, Rempel E, Godoy P, Reif R, Widera A, Madjar K, Schmidt-Heck W, Marchan R, Sachinidis A, Spitkovsky D, Hescheler J, Carmo H, Arbo MD, van de Water B, Wink S, Vinken M, Rogiers V, Escher S, Hardy B, Mitic D, Myatt G, Waldmann T, Mardinoglu A, Damm G, Seehofer D, Nüssler A, Weiss TS, Oberemm A, Lampen A, Schaap MM, Luijten M, van Steeg H, Thasler WE, Kleinjans JC, Stierum RH, Leist M, Rahnenführer J, Hengstler JG. Toxicogenomics directory of chemically exposed human hepatocytes. Arch Toxicol. 2014 Dec;88(12):2261-87.
Godoy P, Hewitt NJ, Albrecht U, …, Hengstler JG. Recent advances in 2D and 3D in vitro systems using primary hepatocytes, alternative hepatocyte sources and non-parenchymal liver cells and their use in investigating mechanisms of hepatotoxicity, cell signaling and ADME. Arch Toxicol. 2013 Aug;87(8):1315-530. Review.
Zellmer S, Schmidt-Heck W, Godoy P, Weng H, Meyer C, Lehmann T, Sparna T, Schormann W, Hammad S, Kreutz C, Timmer J, von Weizsäcker F, Thürmann PA, Merfort I, Guthke R, Dooley S, Hengstler JG, Gebhardt R. Transcription factors ETF, E2F, and SP-1 are involved in cytokine-independent proliferation of murine hepatocytes. Hepatology. 2010 Dec;52(6):2127-36.
Godoy P, Hengstler JG, Ilkavets I, Meyer C, Bachmann A, Müller A, Tuschl G, Mueller SO, Dooley S. Extracellular matrix modulates sensitivity of hepatocytes to fibroblastoid dedifferentiation and transforming growth factor beta-induced apoptosis. Hepatology. 2009 Jun;49(6):2031-43.
Brulport M, Schormann W, Bauer A, Hermes M, Elsner C, Hammersen FJ, Beerheide W, Spitkovsky D, Härtig W, Nussler A, Horn LC, Edelmann J, Pelz-Ackermann O, Petersen J, Kamprad M, von Mach M, Lupp A, Zulewski H, Hengstler JG: Fate of extrahepatic human stem and precursor cells after transplantation into mouse livers.Hepatology 2007;46:861-70.
Hewitt NJ, Lechon MJ, Houston JB, Hallifax D, Brown HS, Maurel P, Kenna JG, Gustavsson L, Lohmann C, Skonberg C, Guillouzo A, Tuschl G, Li AP, LeCluyse E, Groothuis GM, Hengstler JG. Primary hepatocytes: current understanding of the regulation of metabolic enzymes and transporter proteins, and pharmaceutical practice for the use of hepatocytes in metabolism, enzyme induction, transporter, clearance, and hepatotoxicity studies. Drug Metab Rev 2007;39:159-234.
Aurich H, Sgodda M, Kaltwaßer P, Vetter M, Weise A, Liehr T, Brulport M, Hengstler JG, Dollinger MM, Fleig WE, Christ B. Hepatocyte differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells from human adipose tissue in vitro promotes hepatic integration in vivo. GUT 2009;58:570-81.
Aurich I, Mueller LP, Aurich H, Luetzkendorf J, Tisljar K, Dollinger M, Schormann W, Walldorf J, Hengstler JG, Fleig WE, Christ B. Functional integration of human mesenchymal stem cell-derived hepatocytes into mouse livers. Gut. 2007;56(3):405-415.
Ruhnke M, Ungefroren H, Nussler A, Martin F, Brulport M, Schormann W, Hengstler JG, Klapper W, Ulrichs K, Hutchinson JA, Soria B, Parwaresch RM, Heeckt P, Kremer B, Fändrich F, Reprogramming of Human Peripheral Blood Monocytes into Functional Hepatocyte and Pancreatic Islet-like Cells. Gastroenterology, 128:1774-86, 2005.
Weng HL, Liu Y, Chen JL, Huang T, Xu LJ, Godoy P, Hu JH, Zhou C, Stickel F, Marx A, Bohle RM, Zimmer V, Lammert F, Mueller S, Gigou M, Samuel D, Mertens PR, Singer MV, Seitz HK, Dooley S. The etiology of liver damage imparts cytokines transforming growth factor beta1 or interleukin-13 as driving forces in fibrogenesis. Hepatology. 2009 Jul;50(1):230-43.
Dooley S, Hamzavi J, Ciuclan L, Godoy P, Ilkavets I, Ehnert S, Ueberham E, Gebhardt R, Kanzler S, Geier A, Breitkopf K, Weng H, Mertens PR. Hepatocyte-specific Smad7 expression attenuates TGF-beta-mediated fibrogenesis and protects against liver damage. Gastroenterology. 2008 Aug;135(2):642-59.
Hengstler JG, Utesch D, Steinberg P, Ringel M, Swales N, Biefang K, Platt KL, Diener B, Böttger T, Fischer T, Oesch F, Cryopreserved primary hepatocytes as an in vitro model for the evaluation of drug metabolism and enzyme induction. Drug Metab Rev 32, 81-118, 2000.
1underlined: members of the Toxicology group