Endogenous bile acid disposition in rat and human sandwich-cultured hepatocytes

Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012 May 15;261(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Feb 11.


Sandwich-cultured hepatocytes (SCH) are used commonly to investigate hepatic transport protein-mediated uptake and biliary excretion of substrates. However, little is known about the disposition of endogenous bile acids (BAs) in SCH. In this study, four endogenous conjugated BAs common to rats and humans [taurocholic acid (TCA), glycocholic acid (GCA), taurochenodeoxycholic acid (TCDCA), and glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA)], as well as two BA species specific to rodents (α- and β-tauromuricholic acid; α/β TMCA), were profiled in primary rat and human SCH. Using B-CLEAR® technology, BAs were measured in cells+bile canaliculi, cells, and medium of SCH by LC-MS/MS. Results indicated that, just as in vivo, taurine-conjugated BA species were predominant in rat SCH, while glycine-conjugated BAs were predominant in human SCH. Total intracellular BAs remained relatively constant over days in culture in rat SCH. Total BAs in control (CTL) cells+bile, cells, and medium were approximately 3.4, 2.9, and 8.3-fold greater in human than in rat. The estimated intracellular concentrations of the measured total BAs were 64.3±5.9 μM in CTL rat and 183±56 μM in CTL human SCH, while medium concentrations of the total BAs measured were 1.16±0.21 μM in CTL rat SCH and 9.61±6.36 μM in CTL human SCH. Treatment of cells for 24h with 10 μM troglitazone (TRO), an inhibitor of the bile salt export pump (BSEP) and the Na⁺-taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), had no significant effect on endogenous BAs measured at the end of the 24-h culture period, potentially due to compensatory mechanisms that maintain BA homeostasis. These data demonstrate that BAs in SCH are similar to in vivo, and that SCH may be a useful in vitro model to study alterations in BA disposition if species differences are taken into account.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Bile Acids and Salts / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromans / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Female
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Biological*
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Dependent / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Species Specificity
  • Symporters / pharmacology
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry
  • Thiazolidinediones / pharmacology
  • Troglitazone
  • Young Adult


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Chromans
  • Organic Anion Transporters, Sodium-Dependent
  • Symporters
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • sodium-bile acid cotransporter
  • Troglitazone