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Alternatives to Laboratory Animals - ATLA

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A Preliminary Comparison of LiverBeadsTM with a Conventional Rat Hepatocyte Culture Preparation: Some Aspects of Xenobiotic Metabolism and Related Toxicity

Alison H. Hammond, Michael J. Garle and Jeffrey R. Fry

LiverBeads™ are made of hepatocytes that are immobilised and cryopreserved in alginate gel. They have great potential as an easily transportable and easily handled source of hepatocytes for use in in vitro pharmacotoxicology. In this study, we compared the drug metabolising capacity of LiverBeads in culture with that of conventional cultures and of cultures derived from cryopreserved cells. Trypan blue exclusion, lactate dehydrogenase and DNA content were measured in LiverBead cultures. The levels were all similar to those of the conventional cultures, as were the toxicities of precocene II and allyl alcohol, although more variability was seen in the LiverBeads than in the conventional cultures. The cytochrome P450-dependent activity 3,4-dimethyl-7-ethoxycoumarin-O-dealkylase, was reduced in the LiverBeads when compared to the conventional cultures, although the pattern of conjugation was very similar. In addition, the inducibility of cytochrome P4504A was demonstrated in LiverBeads. Cultures from cryopreserved cells were more susceptible to the toxicants tested, and contained less lactate dehydrogenase and DNA than the conventional cultures. Overall, in terms of the aspects of drug metabolism measured, the cultures from LiverBeads appeared to be equivalent to conventional cultures, and superior to cultures from cryopreserved cells.