Two compartment model of diazepam biotransformation in an organotypical culture of primary human hepatocytes

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2009 Jan 15;234(2):179-91. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2008.09.029. Epub 2008 Oct 15.


Drug biotransformation is one of the most important parameters of preclinical screening tests for the registration of new drug candidates. Conventional existing tests rely on nonhuman models which deliver an incomplete metabolic profile of drugs due to the lack of proper CYP450 expression as seen in human liver in vivo. In order to overcome this limitation, we used an organotypical model of human primary hepatocytes for the biotransformation of the drug diazepam with special reference to metabolites in both the cell matrix phase and supernatant and its interaction of three inducers (phenobarbital, dexamethasone, aroclor 1254) in different time responses (1, 2, 4, 8, 24 h). Phenobarbital showed the strongest inducing effect in generating desmethyldiazepam and induced up to a 150 fold increase in oxazepam-content which correlates with the increased availability of the precursor metabolites (temazepam and desmethyldiazepam). Aroclor 1254 and dexamethasone had the strongest inducing effect on temazepam and the second strongest on oxazepam. The strong and overlapping inductive role of phenobarbital strengthens the participation of CYP2B6 and CYP3A in diazepam N-demethylation and CYP3A in temazepam formation. Aroclor 1254 preferentially generated temazepam due to the interaction with CYP3A and potentially CYP2C19. In parallel we represented these data in the form of a mathematical model with two compartments explaining the dynamics of diazepam metabolism with the effect of these other inducers in human primary hepatocytes. The model consists of ten differential equations, with one for each concentration c(i,j) (i=diazepam, temazepam, desmethyldiazepam, oxazepam, other metabolites) and one for each compartment (j= cell matrix phase, supernatant), respectively. The parameters p(k) (k=1, 2, 3, 4, 13) are rate constants describing the biotransformation of diazepam and its metabolites and the other parameters (k=5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15) explain the concentration changes in the two compartments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology
  • Antithyroid Agents / pharmacology
  • Biotransformation
  • Cell Separation
  • Chlorodiphenyl (54% Chlorine) / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology
  • Diazepam / pharmacokinetics*
  • Enzyme Induction / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacokinetics*
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Statistical
  • Nordazepam / metabolism
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Oxazepam / metabolism
  • Phenobarbital / pharmacology
  • Temazepam / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Antithyroid Agents
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Chlorodiphenyl (54% Chlorine)
  • Nordazepam
  • Oxazepam
  • Dexamethasone
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Temazepam
  • Diazepam
  • Phenobarbital