Mechanism-based bioanalysis and biomarkers for hepatic chemical stress

Xenobiotica. 2009 Aug;39(8):565-77. doi: 10.1080/00498250903046993.


Adverse drug reactions, in particular drug-induced hepatotoxicity, represent a major challenge for clinicians and an impediment to safe drug development. Novel blood or urinary biomarkers of chemically-induced hepatic stress also hold great potential to provide information about pathways leading to cell death within tissues. The earlier pre-clinical identification of potential hepatotoxins and non-invasive diagnosis of susceptible patients, prior to overt liver disease is an important goal. Moreover, the identification, validation and qualification of biomarkers that have in vitro, in vivo and clinical transferability can assist bridging studies and accelerate the pace of drug development. Drug-induced chemical stress is a multi-factorial process, the kinetics of the interaction between the hepatotoxin and the cellular macromolecules are crucially important as different biomarkers will appear over time. The sensitivity of the bioanalytical techniques used to detect biological and chemical biomarkers underpins the usefulness of the marker in question. An integrated analysis of the biochemical, molecular and cellular events provides an understanding of biological (host) factors which ultimately determine the balance between xenobiotic detoxification, adaptation and liver injury. The aim of this review is to summarise the potential of novel mechanism-based biomarkers of hepatic stress which provide information to connect the intracellular events (drug metabolism, organelle, cell and whole organ) ultimately leading to tissue damage (apoptosis, necrosis and inflammation). These biomarkers can provide both the means to inform the pharmacologist and chemist with respect to safe drug design, and provide clinicians with valuable tools for patient monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Biomarkers / urine*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / blood*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / urine*
  • Drug Design
  • Liver
  • Necrosis / blood
  • Necrosis / chemically induced
  • Necrosis / urine
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Xenobiotics / adverse effects*
  • Xenobiotics / pharmacology


  • Biomarkers
  • Xenobiotics