Chimeric mice with humanized liver

Toxicology. 2008 Apr 3;246(1):9-17. doi: 10.1016/j.tox.2007.11.012. Epub 2007 Nov 22.


Recently, chimeric mice with humanized liver were established by transplanting human hepatocytes into an urokinase-type plasminogen activator(+/+)/severe combined immunodeficient transgenic mouse line. The replacement with human hepatocytes is more than 80-90% and is higher than any other chimeric mouse reported previously. In drug development, the liver is one of the most important organs because it is mainly involved in the pharmacokinetics of drugs and is frequently damaged by many drugs due to the accumulation of drugs and/or metabolites. The pharmacokinetics could affect the efficacy and toxicity of a drug, and thus prediction of the human pharmacokinetics is important for developing new drugs without adverse reactions and toxicity. Extrapolation from experimental animals or in vitro studies to the human in vivo pharmacokinetics is still difficult. To date, human hepatocytes and liver microsomes are recognized as better tools and are frequently used to estimate the human pharmacokinetics. We thought that chimeric mice with humanized liver could become a new tool for estimating the human toxicity and pharmacokinetics. At first, metabolism, which plays an essential role in pharmacokinetics, was investigated in the chimeric mice. In the liver of the chimeric mice, human drug metabolizing enzymes were found to be expressed and to reflect the capacities and genetic polymorphism of the donor. In an in vivo study on metabolism, human specific metabolites could be detected in the serum of the chimeric mice indicating that the chimeric mice could be used as an in vivo model to address human metabolism. These results suggested that the chimeric mice could overcome the species differences in drug metabolism and be used to evaluate drug toxicity due to genetic polymorphism. The reasons for drug interaction are often enzyme induction and inhibition. By the treatment with a typical inducer of cytochrome P450 (P450), which is the central drug-metabolizing enzyme, P450s expressed in the liver of the chimeric mice were found to possess induction potencies. After the treatment with a specific inhibitor of human P450, the area under the curve of the P450 metabolite was significantly decreased in the chimeric mice but not in the control mice. Therefore, it was indicated that the chimeric mice could be useful for assessing drug interactions in vivo. Moreover, drug excretion was determined to be humanized because cefmetazole was mainly excreted in urine both in the chimeric mice and humans but in the feces in control uPA(-/-)/SCID mice. Drug transporters expressed in the liver of the chimeric mice were also humanized. In this review, studies of the chimeric mice with humanized liver, particularly on metabolism and excretion, are summarized and the possibility of using the chimeric mice is proposed for the advanced prediction of human pharmacokinetics and toxicity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Agents / blood
  • Adrenergic Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Area Under Curve
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Cefmetazole / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2A6
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / physiology
  • Debrisoquin / analogs & derivatives
  • Debrisoquin / blood
  • Debrisoquin / metabolism
  • Debrisoquin / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Hepatocytes / cytology
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Hepatocytes / transplantation
  • Humans
  • Liver* / drug effects
  • Liver* / enzymology
  • Liver* / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Species Specificity
  • Transplantation Chimera / metabolism*


  • Adrenergic Agents
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Cefmetazole
  • 4-hydroxydebrisoquin
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2A6
  • Debrisoquin