Troglitazone-induced hepatic necrosis in an animal model of silent genetic mitochondrial abnormalities

Toxicol Sci. 2007 May;97(1):205-13. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfl180. Epub 2006 Dec 5.


Troglitazone, a first-generation thiazolidinedione antidiabetic drug, was withdrawn from the market due to an unacceptable risk of idiosyncratic hepatotoxicity. Troglitazone does not cause hepatotoxicity in normal healthy rodents, but it produces mitochondrial injury in vitro at high concentrations. The aim of this study was to explore whether genetic mitochondrial abnormalities might sensitize mice to hepatic adverse effects of troglitazone. We used heterozygous superoxide dismutase 2 (Sod2(+/-)) mice as a model of clinically silent mitochondrial stress. Troglitazone was daily administered for 4 weeks (0, 10 or 30 mg/kg/day, ip). We found that troglitazone caused overt liver injury in the high-dose group, manifested by increased serum alanine aminotransferase activity (> twofold) and midzonal areas of hepatic necrosis, in Sod2(+/-) but not in wild-type mice. No signs of hepatotoxicity were apparent at 2 weeks of treatment. Hepatic mitochondria isolated from troglitazone-treated mice exhibited decreased activities of aconitase (by 45%) and complex I (by 46%) and increased (by 58%) protein carbonyls, indicative of enhanced mitochondrial oxidant stress. This was paralleled by compensatory increases in mitochondrial glutathione levels. Finally, in hepatocytes isolated from untreated Sod2(+/-), but not wild-type mice, troglitazone caused a concentration-dependent increase in superoxide anion levels as demonstrated with a selective mitochondria-targeting fluorescent probe. In conclusion, prolonged administration of troglitazone can superimpose oxidant stress, potentiate mitochondrial damage, and induce delayed hepatic necrosis in mice with genetically compromised mitochondrial function. These data are consistent with our hypothesis that inherited or acquired mitochondrial abnormalities may be one of the contributing determinants of susceptibility to troglitazone-induced idiosyncratic liver injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aconitate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury*
  • Chromans / toxicity*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electron Transport Complex I / metabolism
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / toxicity*
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / genetics
  • Liver Diseases / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Mitochondria, Liver / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria, Liver / metabolism
  • Mitochondria, Liver / pathology
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / metabolism*
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / pathology
  • Necrosis
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Protein Carbonylation / drug effects
  • Superoxide Dismutase / deficiency
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism*
  • Superoxides / metabolism
  • Thiazolidinediones / toxicity*
  • Time Factors
  • Troglitazone


  • Chromans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Superoxides
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • superoxide dismutase 2
  • Aconitate Hydratase
  • Electron Transport Complex I
  • Glutathione
  • Troglitazone