Assessment of cytochrome P450 (1A2, 2B6, 2C9 and 3A4) induction in cryopreserved human hepatocytes cultured in 48-well plates using the cocktail strategy

Xenobiotica. 2013 Apr;43(4):320-35. doi: 10.3109/00498254.2012.719088. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


1. A fast, straightforward and cost-effective assay was validated for the assessment of CYP induction in cryopreserved human hepatocytes cultured in 48-well plates. The cocktail strategy (in situ incubation) was used to assess the induction of CYP1A2, CYP2B6, CYP2C9 and CYP3A4 by using the recommended probe substrate, i.e. phenacetin, bupropion, diclofenac and midazolam, respectively. 2. Cryopreserved human hepatocytes were treated for 72 h with prototypical reference inducers, β-naphthoflavone (25 µM), phenobarbital (500 µM) and rifampicin (10 µM) as positive controls for CYP induction. The use of a cocktail strategy has been validated and compared to the classical approach (single incubation). The need of using phase II inhibitor (salicylamide) in CYP induction assay was also investigated. 3. By using three different batches of cryopreserved human hepatocytes and our conditions of incubations, we showed that there was no relevant drug-drug interaction using the cocktail strategy. The same conclusions were observed when a broad range of enzyme activity has to be assessed (wide range of reference inducers, i.e. EC50-Emax experiment). In addition, the interassay reproducibility assessment showed that the day-to-day variability was minimal. 4. In summary, the study showed that the conditions used (probe substrates, concentration of probe substrate and time of incubation) for the cocktail approach were appropriate for investigations of CYP induction potential of new chemical entities. In addition, it was also clear that the use of salicylamide in the incubation media was not mandatory and could generate drug-drug interactions. For this reason, we recommend to not use salicylamide in CYP induction assay.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Culture Techniques / instrumentation*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cryopreservation*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / biosynthesis*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / chemistry
  • Demography
  • Enzyme Induction / drug effects
  • Female
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Hepatocytes / enzymology*
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Microsomes, Liver / drug effects
  • Microsomes, Liver / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Salicylamides / pharmacology
  • Tissue Donors
  • Young Adult


  • Salicylamides
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • salicylamide